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Utilitarianism on Markets - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 106
Markets/Utilitarianism/Gaus: (...) given the assumption of decreasing marginal utility (or decreasing rates of substitution between goods), utilitarianism can justify an egalitarian redistribution of incomes; P. J. Kelly (1990)(1) argues that even before marginalism, Bentham’s utilitarianism endorsed moderate egalitarianism. Given the extent of market failure, utilitarianism can also support a more extensive state. On the other hand, the theory of public choice advances a theory of state failure (Mueller, 2003)(2). If the government action itself suffers from serious failures to promote optimal outcomes, then the market’s failure to do so does not establish a case for intervention. Thus even in the face of serious market failures, a utilitarian may endorse relatively free markets.

1. Kelly, P. J. (1990) Utilitarianism and Distributive Justice. Oxford: Clarendon.
2. Mueller, Dennis C. (2003) Public Choice III. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gaus, Gerald F. 2004. „The Diversity of Comprehensive Liberalisms.“ In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004

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