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Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honor of Amartya SenVolume I: Ethics, Welfare, and Measurement$
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Kaushik Basu and Ravi Kanbur

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199239115

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239115.001.0001

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Rights, Individual Preferences and Collective Rationality

Rights, Individual Preferences and Collective Rationality

(p.213) Chapter 12 Rights, Individual Preferences and Collective Rationality
Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honor of Amartya Sen

Prasanta K. Pattanaik

Oxford University Press

In the context of Amartya Sen's well-known result on the impossibility of a Paretian liberal, this chapter studies two distinct issues, namely, the role of individual preferences over social states in our conception of individual rights to liberty in private affairs, and the implications of individual rights for collective rationality. In the process, several alternative interpretations of Sen's theorem are discussed. It is argued that though some of these interpretations, which have been often adopted in the literature, involve intuitive problems, there more satisfactory interpretations of Sen's theorem, which are free from such problems.

Keywords:   right to liberty, private affairs, collective rationality, Paretian liberal

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