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Social Choice in Five Dimensions

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Abstract

The choice of social welfare function is the benchmark for the moral success or failure of economic policies. Yet most analysis of government policy making assumes that there is universal agreement regarding the society for whom welfare is to be maximized. This article argues that policy makers need to examine government policies through five dimensions of social choice: horizontal utility, vertical utility, group utility, generational utility, and universal utility. The two key issues that must be examined are who counts and over what time frame. In this article, the authors demonstrate that changing the definition of society over time and space dramatically changes the choice of moral economic policies. From a biblical perspective, Christians are commanded to make choices consistent with loving their neighbor as themselves while treating everyone in the world, both now and in the future, as their neighbor.

Brian K. Strow and Claudia W. Strow, "Social Choice in Five Dimensions," Journal of Markets and Morality 17, no.1 (Spring 2014): 65-84.

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