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Liberal Utilitarianism: Social Choice Theory and J. S. Mill's Philosophy

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Overview

This is a book about liberal democratic values and their implications for the design of political institutions. Its distinctive feature is the use of some simple mathematical techniques (known as social choice theory) to clarify and defend a rather complex utilitarian conception of the liberal democratic 'way of life' based on John Stuart Mill's work. More specifically, the text focuses on three well-known 'social choice paradoxes' which are commonly held to destroy any possibility of an ideal harmony among liberal democratic values; and draws upon suggestions implicit in Mill's writings to develop an ethically appealing liberal democratic social choice framework in which the aforementioned paradoxes no longer cause concern. The revised framework is a rather complex version of utilitarianism and should be of special interest to welfare economists, social choice theorists, democratic political theorists and philosophers concerned with utilitarian ethics.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'Jonathan Riley's reinterpretation of Mill is both original and important. The motivation for the reinterpretation relates to issues raised by modern political philosophy and social choice theory. The approach thus developed helps in providing an interesting and rather far-reaching reassessment of Mill in particular and liberal utilitarianism in general.' Amartya Sen
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521109512
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2008
  • Pages: 398
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface; 1. Introduction; Part I. Social Choice Theory and Utilitarianism: 2. Arrow's ordinal utilitarian social welfare functions; 3. The Benthamite utilitarian social welfare functional; 4. Some criticisms of Benthamite utilitarianism; 5. The liberal utilitarian generalised social welfare functional; 6. An ideal utilitarian social welfare functional; Part II. Mills Utilitarianism: 8. Distinct kinds of utility; 9. Utility in the largest sense; Part III. Some Implications for Liberal Democratic Theory: 10. Responses to Gibbard's rights-exercising paradox; 11. Responses to Sen's Paretian liberal paradox; 12. On the design of democratic political institutions; 13. Epilogue; Notes; Bibliography; Index.

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