The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 41, 1998

Political Philosophy

Hugo R. Zuleta
Pages 280-287

Sobre la imposibilidad de un liberal paretiano

I criticize Amartya K. Sen’s solution to his well-known paradox and advance a new one, also consisting of a conditional version of the Pareto principle, to which a weakness of the liberal condition is added. Unlike Sen’s solution, the principle presented here is not based on metapreferences but on first level individual preferences themselves. To that purpose, I define criteria based exclusively on the internal structure of the individual preferences to identify motivation and to compare preference intensities. I distinguish between conditional and unconditional preferences, and show that Sen’s paradox can appear even when individual preferences are completely unconditional. Then, I extend the distinction between conditional and unconditional preferences to complex states of the world that can include elements belonging to personal spheres of different individuals. The main idea is that the Pareto principle should prevail upon the liberal condition when it serves preferences of the individuals concerned that are more intense than their prefrences over the pairs of alternatives assigned to them by the liberal condition.