The Measurement of Social Welfare

By Jerome Rothenberg | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12
Individual Choice or Social Choice? The Condition of Nondictatorship

12-1. Introduction
Our search in this inquiry for a useful welfare analysis has, in effect, centered largely around our ability to formulate a welfare criterion which possesses these properties:
it is internally consistent;
it enables us to obtain a social ordering of at least an important sub-set of the set of all choice alternatives before us;
it is in accordance with the values prevailing in the community concerned.

In Parts II, III, and IV, the important place given to Arrow's Paradox, at least as point of departure, bespoke our concern with the problem of consistency. It will be recalled, furthermore, that our chief standard for appraising the models which we considered was the ability to obtain from them an ordering of usefully many alternatives.1

We did not entirely eschew in these sections the third property cited. But we nowhere systematically raised the question: How does one discover whether or not a given set of values is in accordance with values prevailing in the community? (Alternatively, how does one discover to what degree a set of values corresponds to prevailing values?) Our treatment entailed operating throughout with two major

____________________
1
Our empirical "testing" of cardinal utility models falls into this category, since the ability to use the models for obtaining social orders of alternatives depended importantly on the operational justification of the individual scaling units.

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