Economic Theories of Justice

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Social justice considerations are incorporated into welfare economics via properties of the social welfare function and measures of individual utility. The ethical issues underlying various approaches are illustrated through intriguing paradoxes that have emerged in the literature. Such puzzles point to the tensions among certain important values (such as respecting preferences, giving priority to the worse off, personal responsibility, and informational simplicity) and suggest the relevant ways in which reasonable compromise can be sought. Welfare economics is now able to accommodate a large range of conceptions of justice, including utilitarianism and various forms of egalitarianism and libertarianism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)665-684
Number of pages20
JournalAnnual Review of Economics
StatePublished - Aug 2 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics


  • distributive justice
  • egalitarianism
  • freedom
  • libertarianism
  • utilitarianism
  • welfare economics


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