Analyse & Kritik

Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory

Das Paradox des Liberalismus / The Liberal Paradox

1996 (18) Issue 1



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Table of Contents

Title: Das Paradox des Liberalismus - eine Einführung
Author: Hartmut Kliemt
Page: 1-19

Abstract: This is a somewhat simplistic introduction to some of the topics related to the so called "paradox of liberalism". It tries to serve the twin purpose of facilitating access to the papers printed in this issue of ANALYSE & KRITIK and putting them into a broader perspective.

Title: Welfare, Rights, and Social Choice Procedure: A Perspective
Author: Kotaro Suzumura
Page: 20-37

Abstract: Sen's "The Impossibility of a Paretian Liberal" was meant to crystallize his fundamental criticism against the welfaristic basis of welfare economics in general, and social choice theory in particular. This paper vindicates Sen's criticism, arguing that its logical relevance is not lost in light of recent criticisms against his method of articulating individual rights in terms of a person's decisive power in social choice. We show that some recent proposals that Sen's articulation failed to capture a strong libertarian tradition of free contract and that an appropriate formulation of this tradition wipes off the Sen impossibility cannot be sustained. We then show that the game form articulation of rights casts serious doubts on the Sen articulation of liberty, but the Sen impossibility strenuously comes back in the context of realizing conferred game form rights as well as in the context of initial conferment of game form rights.

Title: The Liberal Paradox. Some Jnterpretations When Rights Are Represented As Game Forms
Author: Prasanta K. Pattanaik
Page: 38-53

Abstract: The paper seeks to interpret the liberal paradox in a framework where individual rights are represented as game forms. Several close counterparts, in this framework, of Sen's theorem are considered, and their intuitive significance is discussed.

Title: Admissibility and Feasibility in Game Forms
Author: Marc Fleurbaey / Wulf Gaertner
Page: 54-66

Abstract: This paper examines the exercise of individual or group rights within the game form approach. It focuses in particular on what it means for a strategy or action to be feasible and admissible. Admissibility is best discussed in relation to two basic distinctions among rights, passive and active rights on the one hand and negative and positive rights on the other. It is argued that while there are quite a few cases in which the outcomes of mutual rights exercising are to the fore, there are many situations where the uninhibited exercise of individual or group rights and not particular outcomes are what society is primarily interested in.

Title: Right or Seemly?
Author: Ken Binmore
Page: 67-80

Abstract: This paper suggests that rights are best seen as being part of the description of a social state rather than as constituents of the mechanism by means of which society selects a social state, A theory of this kind is outlined in which a social state is modeled as an equilibrium in the game of life played by the citizens of a society.

Title: Individual Rights and Legal Validity
Author: Martin van Hees
Page: 81-95

Abstract: The condition of liberty which Sen used in his famous theorem on the impossibility of the Paretian liberal was defined in terms of individual preferences. The preference-based approach has been the subject of much criticism, which led to the evolution of the game-theoretic analysis of rights. In this approach no references to individual preferences are made. Two questions are examined in this paper: how can different types of right be distinguished within a game-theoretic setting, and how do rights come into existence? These questions are addressed on the basis of ideas originating from legal theory The discussion shows that an analysis of rights should take account of the whole legal system of which a legal norm forms part. Furthermore, it reveals that preferences should be re-introduced into the formal study of individual rights.

Title: Constitutional and Liberal Rights
Author: Dennis C. Mueller
Page: 96-117

Abstract: Amartya Sen has demonstrated a possible inconsistency between a (liberal) right and Pareto optimality. Neither Sen nor the subsequent literature have discussed the origin of the rights that lead to the liberal paradox. In this article I examine one possible origin of rights definitions - a constitutional contract agreed to by all members of the community. Constitutional rights are show to be vulnerable to a similar paradox as with liberal rights, but if the writers of the constitution were correct in their choice of actions to protect, such paradoxes will be unlikely and involve small welfare losses when they do occur. The article demonstrates that both the origin of rights and their potential role in advancing the interests of citizens can be explained using a utilitarian/welfarist methodology.

Title: An Ambiguity in Sen's Alleged Proof of the Impossibility of a Pareto Libertarian
Author: James M. Buchanan
Page: 118-125

Abstract: "Minimal liberalism", in Sen's strict definition, is impossible, because any 'social state', once chosen, freezes all of its components, thereby removing any prospect of further assignment of choice-making authority.

Title: The Paretian Liberal, His Liberties and His Contracts
Author: Anthony de Jasay / Hartmut Kliemt
Page: 126-147

Abstract: The paper tries to relate classical liberal intuitions about rights and liberties to some of the more formal discussions of the putative impossibility of a Paretian liberal. Its focus is on the interpretation of formal modelling rather than on formal analysis. The theoretical concepts of the formalized approaches more often than not distort the meaning of the non-formalized concepts of classical liberal theory. Using proper explications of the concepts of liberties and rights respectively the alleged paradoxes of liberalism lose their paradoxical character.

Title: Comment on the Papers by J. M. Buchanan and by A. de Jasay and H. Kliemt
Author: Friedrich Breyer
Page: 148-152

Abstract: We distinguish between the paradigm of game theory in which individuals act directly and that of social choice in which an impartial observer acts on the basis of social preferences, which in turn are derived from individual preferences. Much of the critique of Sen brought forward by Buchanan and de Jasay and Kliemt rests on a confusion of these two paradigms.

Title: Rights: Formulation and Consequences
Author: Amartya Sen
Page: 153-170

Abstract: The symposium included in this issue of ANALYSE & KRITIK has provided an excellent occasion to re-examine formal as well as motivational issues underlying the so-called liberal paradox. This rejoinder discusses the significance of the new results and analyses, their bearing on the formulation and implications of rights, and also corrects a misinterpretation. Reflections precipitated by the liberal paradox can influence the acceptability of different principles of social decisions, and also the interpretation of 'preference' and 'unanimity'. They also point to some concerns that are relevant in the formation of individual preferences in a society with interdependent lives.