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

Abstract
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 (using corrected prices) 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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