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Well-Being and Fair DistributionBeyond Cost-Benefit Analysis$
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Matthew Adler

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195384994

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195384994.001.0001

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(p.552) (p.553) 8 Next Steps
Well-Being and Fair Distribution

Matthew D. Adler

Oxford University Press

This chapter outlines three large, difficult, and important problems, connected to the social welfare function (SWF) framework. First, what is the appropriate legal role of the SWF framework? Should governmental officials be legally required to use SWFs in evaluating laws and regulations, just as they are currently required (at least to some extent) to use cost-benefit analysis? Second, how should the SWF framework be outfitted to handle non-identity problems, variable populations, and infinite populations? This book has assumed that each of the members of a “population” (the individuals whose well-being is of interest to the decisionmaker) exist in all of the possible outcomes of choice; that the size of the population is the same number in all outcomes; and that this number is finite. What happens when these assumptions are relaxed? Finally, how should considerations of individual responsibility be integrated into the SWF framework? This chapter addresses these final questions.

Keywords:   social welfare function framework, legal role, non-identity problems, variable populations, infinite populations, individual responsibility

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