The Consequentialist Nature of Economic Analysis
This chapter presents welfare economics and its consequentialist nature. It first discusses the main features of positive and normative economic analysis and the meaning of “consequentialism.” It then analyzes the deontological critique of consequentialism, specifically consequentialism's lack of constraints on attaining the best outcomes. It critically examines various attempts at defending consequentialism in general, and welfare economics in particular, against this critique. It concludes that all of the attempts to downplay, deny, or circumvent the deontological critique are doomed to failure. The responses that come closest to actually addressing the critique do so by endorsing deontological constraints (and options) on the factoral level. They imply that agents and policy-makers should only strive to attain the overall best outcomes subject to constraints and that agents sometimes have options not to attain the best outcomes.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.