Costs and Benefits of Cost-Benefit Analysis: A Response to Bantz and MacLean

Although the standard theory and actual practice of cost-benefit analysis are seriously defective, the general idea of making social policy in accord with an aggregative, maximizing, consequentialist criterion is a sensible one. Therefore it is argued, against Bantz, that interpersonal utility comparisons can be meaningful, and, against both Bantz and MacLean, that quantitative overall assessments of expected value provide a presumptively rational basis for social choice. However, it does not follow that introducing cost-benefit tests into the political or legal process would always be optimal: recognizing some quite stringent legal rights against involuntary exposure to pollution or risk may actually promote cost-beneficial results more reliably than cost-benefit tests employed in very imperfect circumstances
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David A. Bantz (1982). The Philosophical Basis of Cost-Risk-Benefit Analyses. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982:227 - 242.
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Alex C. Michalos (1970). Cost-Benefit Versus Expected Utility Acceptance Rules. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1970 (1):375-402.

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