Fairness, Responsibility, and Welfare

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9780199215911: Fairness, Responsibility, and Welfare

What is a fair distribution of resources and other goods when individuals are partly responsible for their achievements? This book develops a theory of fairness incorporating a concern for personal responsibility, opportunities and freedom. With a critical perspective, it makes accessible the recent developments in economics and philosophy that define social justice in terms of equal opportunities. It also proposes new perspectives and original ideas. The book separates mathematical sections from the rest of the text, so that the main concepts and ideas are easily accessible to non-technical readers.

It is often thought that responsibility is a complex notion, but this monograph proposes a simple analytical framework that makes it possible to disentangle the different concepts of fairness that deal with neutralizing inequalities for which the individuals are not held responsible, rewarding their effort, respecting their choices, or staying neutral with respect to their responsibility sphere. It dwells on paradoxes and impossibilities only as a way to highlight important ethical options and always proposes solutions and reasonable compromises among the conflicting values surrounding equality and responsibility.

The theory is able to incorporate disincentive problems and is illustrated in the examination of applied policy issues such as: income redistribution when individuals may be held responsible for their choices of labor supply or education; social and private insurance when individuals may be held responsible for their risky lifestyle; second chance policies; the measurement of inequality of opportunities and social mobility.

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About the Author:


Marc Fleurbaey is senior researcher at CNRS (Paris), Lachmann Fellow at the LSE (London), and a member of IDEP (Marseilles). He has previously been a professor of economics and an economist at INSEE. He has published extensively on welfare economics, fairness, inequality. He has been an editor of Economics and Philosophy and is a managing editor of Social Choice and Welfare.

Review:


"Inquiries such as Fleurbaeys, which employ both formal and philosophical methods to explore distributional principles, are of great importance from all three perspectives. Fairness, Responsibility, and Welfare is essential reading for serious egalitarians."--Ethics


"The role of personal responsibility is important for the foundations of justice, but the subject has not received the critical investigation it deserves. In this book, Marc Fleurbaey has gone a long distance in meeting this gap. This is a deeply illuminating contribution on a neglected aspect of welfare economics."--Amartya Sen, Thomas W. Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy, Harvard, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics 1998


"Fleurbaey's book is clearly written and successfully communicates to a broad audience while not sacrificing rigor. It provides a thorough account of the most recent developments in social choice theory at the same time as contributing innovations which develop this area in a beautiful and important way."--John Roemer, Elizabeth S. and A. Varick Professor of Political Science and Economics, Yale University


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