Normative welfare economics commonly assumes that individuals' preferences can be reliably inferred from their choices and relies on preference satisfaction as the normative standard for welfare. In recent years, several authors criticized welfare economists’ reliance on preference satisfaction as the normative standard for welfare and advocated grounding normative welfare economics on opportunities rather than preferences. In this paper, I argue that although preference-based approaches to normative welfare economics face significant conceptual and practical challenges, opportunity-based approaches fail to provide a more reliable and informative foundation for normative welfare economics than preference-based approaches. I then rebut some influential calls to ground normative welfare economics on opportunities rather than preferences to support my qualified defence of preference-based approaches.
This internal talk is for Oxford Uehiro Centre members and associates.
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