PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982:261-271 (1982)
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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