Liberty, Unanimity and Rights

  • Sen A
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Two of the more widely used principles in evaluating social states are: (a) The Pareto principle: if everyone in the society prefers a certain social state to another, then the choice of the former must be taken to be better for for the society as a whole. (b) Acceptance of personal liberty: there are certain personal matters in which each person should be free to decide what should happen, and in choices over these things whatever he or she thinks is better must be taken to be better for the society as a whole, no matter what others think. It was argued in Sen (1970a, b) that these two principles conflict with each other in a significant sense-a sense that was precisely described (see (TI) and (T7) in the Appendix). The Pareto principle implies that if more than one person is given the guarantee of having his preference reflected in social preference even over one pair each (no matter how "personal" to him the choice over that pair is), then contradictory cycles may result (e.g., x social preferred to y, y to z and z to x) for some set of individual preferences

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  • Amartya Sen

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