The problem of unauthorized welfare

Noûs 25 (3):295-321 (1991)
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This problem has already been discussed by a number of authors.[i] Typically, however, authors take one of two extreme positions: they hold that all welfare should be taken at face value, or they hold that "suspect" welfare should be completely ignored. My contribution here is the following: First, I introduce the notion of unauthorized (suspect) welfare, of which welfare from meddlesome preferences, offensive tastes, expensive tastes, etc. are special cases. Second, I formulate four conditions of adequacy, applicable to any welfare-based theory, for dealing with unauthorized welfare. These conditions require that unauthorized welfare be "discounted" (play a restricted role) but not be completely ignored. Thus, I shall be exploring a position intermediate between taking "unauthorized" welfare at face value and simply ignoring it. Moreover, the four conditions jointly determine exactly how existing welfare-based theories need to be revised so as to be appropriately sensitive to unauthorized welfare.
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