Politicians typically motivate public policy changes by suggesting that social welfare improves as a result of the policy. While much debate surrounds the best delineation for a social welfare function, few have considered what the appropriate definition is for society. Bentham, Rawls, Sen, and others have proposed different ways to measure social welfare, and these constructs all hold one thing in common: They all pivot on the definition used for society. This article examines the ramifications of inaccurately or artificially defining society and argues that changes in the definition of society result in dramatically different or even opposing economic policy prescriptions.
Brian K. Strow and Claudia W. Strow, "Social Choice: The Neighborhood Effect," Journal of Markets & Morality 14, no. 1 (Spring 2011): 59-70