Spurious Unanimity and the Pareto Principle

Economics and Philosophy 32 (3):511-532 (2016)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
The Pareto principle states that if the members of society express the same preference judgment between two options, this judgment is compelling for society. A building block of normative economics and social choice theory, and often borrowed by contemporary political philosophy, the principle has rarely been subjected to philosophical criticism. The paper objects to it on the ground that it indifferently applies to those cases in which the individuals agree on both their expressed preferences and their reasons for entertaining them, and those cases in which they agree on their expressed preferences, while differing on their reasons. The latter are cases of "spurious unanimity", and it is normatively inappropriate, or so the paper argues, to defend unanimity preservation at the social level for them, so the Pareto principle is formulated much too broadly. The objection seems especially powerful when the principle is applied in an ex ante context of uncertainty, in which individuals can disagree on both their probabilities and utilities, and nonetheless agree on their preferences over prospects.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
MONSUA-2
Upload history
Archival date: 2015-11-21
View other versions
Added to PP index
2012-03-30

Total views
899 ( #4,267 of 55,809 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
48 ( #15,734 of 55,809 )

How can I increase my downloads?

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