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Law, Economics, and Morality$
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Eyal Zamir and Barak Medina

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195372168

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195372168.001.0001

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The Consequentialist Nature of Economic Analysis

The Consequentialist Nature of Economic Analysis

(p.11) one The Consequentialist Nature of Economic Analysis
Law, Economics, and Morality



Oxford University Press

This chapter presents welfare economics and its consequentialist nature. It first discusses the main features of positive and normative economic analysis and the meaning of “consequentialism.” It then analyzes the deontological critique of consequentialism, specifically consequentialism's lack of constraints on attaining the best outcomes. It critically examines various attempts at defending consequentialism in general, and welfare economics in particular, against this critique. It concludes that all of the attempts to downplay, deny, or circumvent the deontological critique are doomed to failure. The responses that come closest to actually addressing the critique do so by endorsing deontological constraints (and options) on the factoral level. They imply that agents and policy-makers should only strive to attain the overall best outcomes subject to constraints and that agents sometimes have options not to attain the best outcomes.

Keywords:   welfare economics, cost-benefit analysis, consequentialism, rule consequentialism, deontology, constraints, demandingness, preferences

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