Which values should be built into economic measures?

Economics and Philosophy 35 (3):521-536 (2019)
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Abstract

Many economic measures are structured to reflect ethical values. I describe three attitudes towards this: maximalism, according to which we should aim to build all relevant values into measures; minimalism, according to which we should aim to keep values out of measures; and an intermediate view. I argue the intermediate view is likely correct, but existing versions are inadequate. In particular, economists have strong reason to structure measures to reflect fixed, as opposed to user-assessable, values. This implies that, despite disagreement about precisely how to do so, economists should standardly adjust QALYs and DALYs to reflect egalitarian values.

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S. Andrew Schroeder
Claremont McKenna College

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