- List of Figures
- List of Tables
- Notes on Contributors
- Adam Smith and the Study of Ethics in a Commercial Society
- Virtue and Economics, Horse and Cart
- With All Due Respect: A Kantian Approach to Economics
- Ethical Pluralism in Economics
- Economic Ethics and the Capability Approach
- Evolution and Moral Motivation in Economics
- Morality as a Complex Adaptive System: Rethinking Hayek’s Social Ethics
- On the Evolution of Ethics, Rationality, and Economic Behavior
- Human Ethicality: Evidence and Insights from Behavioral Economics
- Ethics <i>and</i> Economics: A Complex Systems Approach
- Economics and Ethics within the Austrian School of Economics
- Feminist Economics and Ethics
- Economy and Culture: The Importance of Sense-Making
- Humane Markets: The Classical Tradition of Political Economy
- Capitalism and Democracy: Allies, Rivals, or Strangers?
- The Moral Status of Profit
- The Ethics of Money and Finance
- Ethics <i>and, in</i>, and <i>for</i> Labor Markets
- Cost-Benefit Analysis and Social Welfare Functions
- The Normative Economics of Social Risk
- The Ethics of Making Risky Decisions for Others
- The Tragedy of Economics: On the Nature of Economic Harm and the Responsibilities of Economists
- Economics, Ethics, and Health Insurance
- Deontological Morality and Economic Analysis of Law
- The Ethics and Economics of Ecological Justice
- Civil Rights, Employment, and Race
- Lessons from Economics
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter describes and compares the two most important policy-analysis methodologies in economics: cost-benefit analysis (CBA) and the social-welfare-function (SWF) framework. Both approaches are consequentialist and welfarist; both are typically combined with a preference-based view of well-being. Despite these similarities, the two methodologies differ in significant ways. CBA translates well-being impacts into monetary equivalents, and ranks outcomes according to the sum total of monetary equivalents. By contrast, the SWF framework relies upon an interpersonally comparable measure of well-being. Each possible outcome is mapped onto a list (vector) of these well-being numbers, one for each person in the population; the ranking of outcomes, then, is driven by some rule (the SWF) for ranking these well-being vectors. The utilitarian SWF and the prioritarian family of SWFs (each corresponding to well-developed positions in moral philosophy) are especially plausible. The case for using CBA rather than one of these SWFs is weak—or so the chapter argues.
Matthew D. Adler is the Richard A. Horvitz Professor of Law and Professor of Economics, Philosophy and Public Policy at Duke University.
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