Consistency between tastes and values: A universalization approach

Gravel, Nicolas; Laslier, Jean-Francois; Trannoy, Alain
April 2000
Social Choice & Welfare;2000, Vol. 17 Issue 2, p293
Academic Journal
Abstract. The object of this paper is to propose a consistency test for an individual involved in collective choice process. Collective choice processes considered in the paper are those that transform individuals 'tastes' - which reflect the self-interested view point of the individuals - into (social) ranking of alternatives. In addition to her tastes, an individual has values about the way by which collective decision should be made. We distinguish two categories of such values. First, there are end-values that restrict the class of social rankings that the individual considers ethically acceptable. Second there are aggregation-values that specify the way by which the social ranking should depend upon the individuals tastes. The consistency test stands on an hypothetical operation of universalization of the individual tastes to everyone. Five illustrations of the potential usefulness of our approach for interpreting social choice theory and welfare economics are proposed. These illustrations deal with utilitarian aggregation in the presence of income inequality aversion, the so-called 'ethics of responsibility' and the aggregation of individual ranking of opportunity sets based on their freedom of choice. A discussion of the relevance of the consistency test for addressing the problem of 'laundering' individual preferences is also provided. Received: 25 June 1998/Accepted: 16 March 1999


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