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A Single Relation Theory of Welfarist Social Evaluation

Séminaire de microéconomie 2022
conjoint avec le Département de sciences économiques, Université de Montréal
salle C-6149 (U. de Montréal, Pavillon Lionel-Groulx, 3150, rue Jean-Brillant)
Responsable : Lars Ehlers (U. de Montréal)

RÉSUMÉ : Despite its central importance, the analysis of social welfare still faces conceptual issues related to well-being measurement. To overcome this problem, the paper offers a new theory of Welfarist social evaluation over states of the world where a single relation captures incomplete comparisons of qualitative well-being differences and levels. It closes the gap between public discourse and theoretical analysis and clarifies the role of numerical well-being representations. The theory is based on a new anonymity condition for fixed well-being levels at states. It provides a unified rationale for existing two-person conditions and identifies deep connections between seemingly distinct approaches to social evaluation. Dependent on the extent of interpersonal well-being comparability, Strong Pareto and the new condition characterize Simple Majority Relation, a level-based Borda Relation, Utilitarianism, Leximin, and a new class of Additive Welfarist Relations. The relational analysis does not employ problematic independence or neutrality conditions from the literature. Allowing for an infinite set of individuals, it applies to fixed and variable population contexts. It also connects the social evaluation of states and acts in choice under uncertainty.

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