Economic Theory

A Critique of Welfare Economics by I. M. D. Little

By I. M. D. Little

First released in 1950, this booklet used to be keen on the exposition, feedback, and appreciation of the speculation of financial welfare because it were built to that date. Now reissued, Little has additional a brand new retrospective preface within which he assesses the contribution the publication made within the gentle of next literature within the quarter.

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Extra resources for A Critique of Welfare Economics

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Nov. 1954. THE A N A L Y S I S OF C O N S U M E R S ' B E H A V I O U R 27 the case of lines sloping upwards in a north-easterly direction is ruled out by the reasonably acceptable assumption that where there is more of each good that is preferred. 1 Finally, consistency of choice does not prevent the curves from merging, as in Fig. V. The diagram is not inconsistent with transitivity of choice as can be seen by considering the points A, B, and C; for their positions are consistent with them being chosen FIG.

Nevertheless, I also-think that if satisfaction measurers attained their goal, they would realize 34 THE ANALYSIS OF CONSUMERS' BEHAVIOUR that it was not where they wanted to be after all. This would be because measurement is a precise objective operation, and if something called 'satisfaction' were really measured, then the very precision of the result would destroy its value for helping to decide ethical issues. A utilitarian would not accept too objectively precise a measurement, because he would want to keep any decision as to what was the best thing to do, in some given circumstances, to himself.

It may be objected that the obvious utilitarian definition of economic equality is that people are economically equal when they derive the same total satisfaction from economic things. But, if this is the definition, it does not follow that equality produces maximum happiness, which is a central tenet of radical utilitarianism. Let us now go back to the 'optimum' conditions of production and exchange. If these conditions were not realized, it followed that more satisfaction could be produced so long as putting these 'optimum' conditions into operation did not change the distribution of the goods so much in favour of the rich (as defined above) that any increase in satisfaction which would otherwise have resulted would be wiped out.

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