Social Choice and Welfare

, Volume 5, Issue 2–3, pp 103–126 | Cite as

Lives and well-being

  • P. Dasgupta


This article attempts to use the analytical framework of social choice theory for exploring the ethical foundations of population policies. It is argued that non-existence is not a state and therefore that different numbers problems are conceptionally different from same numbers problems that concern much theoretical welfare economics. By means of examples it is argued that we should not expect to find an overall ethical ordering of social states when the size of future generations is subject to choice.


Economic Theory Social State Future Generation Analytical Framework Social Choice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aristotle (1976) The Nicomachean ethics. Thomson JAK, Penguin Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  2. Arrow KJ (1963) Social choice and individual values, 2nd edn. John Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Bauer PT (1981) Equality, the Third World and economic delusion. Weidenfeld and Nicholson, LondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Blackorby C, Donaldson D (1985) Social criteria for evaluating population change. J Publ Econ 28Google Scholar
  5. Dasgupta P (1969). On the concept of optinum population. Rev Econ Stud 36Google Scholar
  6. Dasgupta P (1983) Lives and welfare. (ICERD) Discussion Paper, London, School of EconomicsGoogle Scholar
  7. Dasgupta P, Heal G (1979) Economic theory and exhaustible resources. James Nisbet and Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  8. d'Aspermont C, Gevers L (1977) Equity and the informational basis of collective choice. Rev Econ Stud 46Google Scholar
  9. Diamond PA (1965) The evaluation of infinite utility streams. Econometrica 33Google Scholar
  10. Gaertner W (1987) Consistency in constant and changing environments: a note, mimeo. Department of Economics, University of OsnabrückGoogle Scholar
  11. Gottlieb M (1945) A theory of optimum population for a closed economy. Chicago J Pol Econ 53Google Scholar
  12. Graaff J de V (1962) Theoretical welfare economics. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  13. Hammond PJ (1976) Equity, Arrow's conditions and Rawls' difference principle. Econometrica 42Google Scholar
  14. Hare R (1973) Rawls' theory of justice, Part II. Philos Q 23Google Scholar
  15. Hare R (1981) Moral thinking: Its levels, method and point. Claredon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  16. Hare R (1982) Ethical theory and utilitarianism. In: Sen AK, Williams B (eds) Utilitarianism and beyond. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge; Originally published in: Lewis HD (ed) (1976) Contemporary British philosophy. Allen and Unwin, LondonGoogle Scholar
  17. Harsanyi J (1955) Cardinal welfare, individualistic ethics, and interpersonal comparisons of utility. J Polit Econ 63Google Scholar
  18. Harsanyi J (1976) Essays on ethics, social behaviour and scientific explanation. Reidel, BostonGoogle Scholar
  19. Hurka T (1983) Value and poulation size. EthicsGoogle Scholar
  20. Johnson D Gale, Lee RD (eds) (1987) Population growth and economics development. University of Wisconsin Press, WisconsinGoogle Scholar
  21. Jones Lee MW (1982) The value of life and safety. North-Holland, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  22. Kavka G (1975) Rawls on average and total utility. Philos StudiesGoogle Scholar
  23. Koopmans TC (1960) Stationary ordinal utility and impatience. Econometrica 28Google Scholar
  24. Koopmans TC (1972) Representation of preference orderings over time. In: McGuire CB, Radner R (eds) Decision and organization. North-Holland, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  25. Meade JE (1955) Trade and welfare, Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  26. Mirrlees JA (1982) The economic uses of utilitarianism. In: Sen AK, Williams B (eds) Utilitarianism and beyond. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  27. Nagel T (1986) The view from nowhere. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  28. Nerlove M, Razin A, Sadka E (1986) Household and economy: parental and filial equity. Academic Press. New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. Nozick R (1974) Anarchy, state and utopia. Basil Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  30. Nozick R (1981) Philosophical explanations. Clarendon Press. OxfordGoogle Scholar
  31. Parfit D (1982) Future generations; further problems. Philos Publ Aff 11Google Scholar
  32. Parfit D (1984) Reasons and persons. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  33. Ramsey FP (1928) A mathematical theory of saving. Econ J 38Google Scholar
  34. Rawls J (1972) A theory of justice. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  35. Sen A (1973) On economic inequality. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  36. Sen A (1977) On weights and measures: informational constraints in social welfare analysis. Econometrica 45Google Scholar
  37. Sen A (1987) The standard of living. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  38. Sidgwick A (1907) The method of ethics, 7th edn. Maxmillan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  39. Kikora R, Barry B (1978) Obligations to future generations. Temple University Press, PhiladephiaGoogle Scholar
  40. Sugden R (1985) Why be consistent? A critical analysis of consistency requirements in choice theory. Economica 52Google Scholar
  41. Vickrey W (1960) Utility, strategy, and social decision rules. Q J Econ 74Google Scholar
  42. Williams B (1973) A critique of utilitarianism. In: Smart JJC, Williams B (eds) Utilitarianism for and against. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  43. Williams B (1981) Persons, character and morality. In: Williams B: Moral link. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  44. Williams B (1985) Ethics and the limits of philosophy. Fontana, LondonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Dasgupta
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CambridgeCambridgeUnited Kingdom

Personalised recommendations