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What are the ethics of welfare economics? And, are welfare economists utilitarians?

Edward Morey ()

International Review of Economics, 2018, vol. 65, issue 2, No 5, 230 pages

Abstract: Abstract Four questions: (1) What is welfare economics? (2) Is it an ethical system? (3) How do welfare economists differ from one another? And (4), how do they differ from other economic ethicists? Then utilitarianism is discussed. I was taught, and have inferred to others, that welfare economists are utilitarians. They are not. Welfare economics is an atypical form of welfare consequentialism: consequentialist in that whether an act or policy is right or wrong is a function of only its consequences—the adjective “welfare” because the only consequences that matter are the welfare (well-faring) consequences. Most welfare consequentialists are neither welfare economists nor utilitarians. And, most moral philosophers are not welfare consequentialists—neither are most normal folk.

Keywords: Welfare economics; Utilitarianism (Benthamite; act; rule; and preference); Welfare consequentialism (WC); Well-being (WB); Emotional WB; Life-satisfaction WB; Preferences; Interests; Impartiality; Fairness; Justice; Loyalty; Holiness; Jeremy Bentham; John Harsanyi; Peter Singer (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B13 B20 B41 D60 D63 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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DOI: 10.1007/s12232-018-0294-y

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