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date: 04 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

As a criterion for state action, utilitarianism faces the difficulty that it permits the expectations of some to be overridden for the benefit of others. Neither Bentham’s felicific calculus nor the related cost-benefit analysis can justify the coercion needed for state action. Social welfare functions, including those that incorporate Rawls’s difference principle, face the same difficulty as utilitarianism. One way of resolving this problem is to move to a constitutional framework of constrained utilitarianism, under which only policies that violate no one’s reasonable expectations are considered. To ensure that no one will have a reasonable basis for objecting, there must be a Tieboutian opportunity for dissenters to form their own polities.

Keywords: constrained utilitarianism, Tiebout, justified coercion, felicific calculus, potential compensation test, social welfare function, difference principle, constitutional framework

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