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The Paradoxes of the Liberal Ethics of Non-interference

  • Marco Mariotti


    (University of St Andrews)

  • Roberto Veneziani


    (Queen Mary, University of London)

We analyse the liberal ethics of non-interference applied to social choice. Two liberal principles capturing non-interfering views of society, inspired by J.S. Mill's conception of liberty are examined, which capture the idea that society should not penalise agents after changes in their situation that do not affect others. Two paradoxes of liberal approaches are highlighted. First, it is shown that a restricted view of non-interference, as reflected in the Individual Damage Principle, together with some standard axioms in social choice leads straight to welfare egalitarianism. Second, it is proved that every weakly paretian social welfare ordering that satisfies a general principle of noninterference must be dictatorial. Both paradoxes raise important issues for liberal approaches in social choice and political philosophy.

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Paper provided by Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance in its series Working Papers with number 653.

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Date of creation: Dec 2009
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Handle: RePEc:qmw:qmwecw:wp653
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  1. Michele Lombardi & Kahame Miyagishima & Roberto Veneziani, 2013. "Liberal Egalitarianism and the Harm Principle," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2013-07, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  2. Marco Mariotti & Roberto Veneziani, 2009. "‘Non-interference’ implies equality," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 123-128, January.
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