Frege’s puzzle and the ex ante Pareto principle

Philosophical Studies 178 (6):2077-2100 (2021)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
The ex ante Pareto principle has an intuitive pull, and it has been a principle of central importance since Harsanyi’s defence of utilitarianism. The principle has been used to criticize and refine a range of positions in welfare economics, including egalitarianism and prioritarianism. But this principle faces a serious problem. I have argued elsewhere :303-323 2017) that the concept of ex ante Pareto superiority is not well defined, because its application in a choice situation concerning a fixed population can depend on how the members of that population are designated. I show in this paper that in almost all cases of policy choice, there will be numerous sets of rival designators for the same fixed population. I explore two ways that we might complete the definition of ex ante Pareto superiority. I call these the ‘supervaluationist’ reading and the ‘subvaluationist’ reading. I reject the subvaluationist reading as uncharitable, and argue that the supervaluationist reading is the most promising interpretation of the ex ante Pareto principle. I end by exploring some of the implications of this principle for prioritarianism and egalitarianism.
ISBN(s)
PhilPapers/Archive ID
MAHFPA-2
Upload history
Archival date: 2020-12-23
View other versions
Added to PP index
2020-09-16

Total views
47 ( #56,868 of 64,138 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
14 ( #40,379 of 64,138 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.