The Paretian Liberal Paradox & Rousseau's General Will: An Analysis Within a Dual Utility Framework

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The Paretian Liberal Paradox & Rousseau's General Will: An Analysis Within a Dual Utility Framework
By Iona Tarrant

Published by Hull Economic Research Papers in August 1998, 44 pages. A5 size booklet (S8295BK)

From the first page: "The general will is always right and always tends to the public good; but it does not follow that the deliberations of the people will always have the same rectitude. We always desire our own good, but we do not always recognise it."

This paper provides an interpretation ofSen's Paretian liberal paradox in the light of Rousseau's notion of the general will. It argues for an interpretation of Rousseau's notions of social and individual good in 'The Social Contract' as preference orderings within a hierarchical dual utility (private will and general will) framework. This analytical framework has implications for the notion of liberty, the notion of social good and hence the conflict between Paretianism and liberalism. Only society can 'know' the social good, thus it is society rather than the individual that is the best judge of its own welfare. Paretianism, as the unanimous view, in some sense represents a 'will' of society, but whether or not this 'will' is synonymous with society's good is dependant on the motivation underlying individual preferences. 


The condition of the booklet is generally good. The cover has one or two minor scuffs, but the staple spine is intact and all pages are intact, unblemished and tightly bound.