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Did John Stuart Mill Reconcile Commitment to Liberty with Admittance of a Single Value Utility?

Tarrant, I. (2004) Did John Stuart Mill Reconcile Commitment to Liberty with Admittance of a Single Value Utility? Working Paper. Department of Economics, University of Sheffield ISSN 1749-8368


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Numerous interpretations of John Stuart Mill´s utilitarianism have been proposed (in response to the above question) to date. The interpretation presented in this paper is distinctive in that it draws heavily upon multiple utility frameworks, a recent development in microeconomic theory. It is argued that such an analytical framework would enable Mill to advocate an absolute right to liberty, without betraying utilitarianism. This conclusion is at variance with Amartya Sen´s key Paretian liberal paradox, which establishes conflict between some minimal commitment to individual liberty and a social welfare function based upon Paretian value judgements. Generally, one would expect the social objective of utility maximisation to be consistent with the objective of maximisation of a Paretian social welfare function. However, the apparent contradiction is explained here by the fact that the approach to social welfare implied by Mill´s utilitarianism differs fundamentally from the conventional Paretian social welfare function. The analysis is also used to suggest a novel route out of the Sen paradox.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: The Sheffield Economics Research Paper (SERP) series offers a forum for the research output of the academic staff and research students of the Department of Economics, University of Sheffield. Papers are reviewed for quality and presentation by a departmental editor. However, the contents and opinions expressed remain the responsibility of the authors. All papers may be downloaded free on the understanding that the contents are preliminary and therefore permission from the author(s) should be sought before they are referenced.
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Department of Economics (Sheffield) > Sheffield Economics Research Papers Series
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2009 12:22
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2014 02:58
Published Version: http://www.shef.ac.uk/economics/research/serps/yea...
Status: Published
Publisher: Department of Economics, University of Sheffield
Identification Number: Sheffield Economic Research Paper Series 2004003
Related URLs:
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9889

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