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2006

Politics

Cornell Law Faculty Working Papers

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Minding The Gaps: Fairness, Welfare, And The Constitutive Structure Of Distributive Assessment, Robert C. Hockett Sep 2006

Minding The Gaps: Fairness, Welfare, And The Constitutive Structure Of Distributive Assessment, Robert C. Hockett

Cornell Law Faculty Working Papers

Despite over a century’s disputation and attendant opportunity for clarification, the field of inquiry now loosely labeled “welfare economics” (WE) remains surprisingly prone to foundational confusions. The same holds of work done by many practitioners of WE’s influential offshoot, normative “law and economics” (LE).

A conspicuous contemporary case of confusion turns up in recent discussion concerning “fairness versus welfare.” The very naming of this putative dispute signals a crude category error. “Welfare” denotes a proposed object of distribution. “Fairness” describes and appropriate pattern of distribution. Welfare itself is distributed fairly or unfairly. “Fairness versus welfare” is analytically on ...