The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Cost–Benefit Analysis: Philosophical Issues

  • Sven Ove Hansson
Reference work entry


Cost–benefit analysis (CBA) gives rise to a whole range of philosophical issues. The most discussed among these is the status of economic values that are assigned to assets conceived as incommensurable with money, such as a human life or the continued existence of an animal species. CBA also involves other contentious assumptions, for instance that a disadvantage affecting one person can be fully compensated for by an advantage affecting some other person. Another controversial issue is whether a CBA should cover all aspects in a decision or rather leave out certain issues (such as justice) so that they can instead be treated separately.


Aggregation Commensurability Comparability Compensation Contingent valuation Cost–benefit analysis Environmental economics Ethics Health economics Incommensurability Interpersonal comparison Life value Philosophy of economics Risk–benefit analysis Synopticism Value of life Welfare economics Willingness to pay 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sven Ove Hansson
    • 1
  1. 1.