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The impossibility of a Paretian republican? Some comments on Pettit and Sen

List, Christian ORCID: 0000-0003-1627-800X (2004) The impossibility of a Paretian republican? Some comments on Pettit and Sen. Economics and Philosophy, 20 (1). pp. 65-87. ISSN 0266-2671

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S0266267104001245


Philip Pettit (2001) has suggested that there are parallels between his republican account of freedom and Amartya Sen’s (1970) account of freedom as decisive preference. In this paper, I discuss these parallels from a social-choice-theoretic perspective. I sketch a formalization of republican freedom, and argue that republican freedom is formally very similar to freedom as defined in Sen’s “minimal liberalism” condition. In consequence, the republican account of freedom is vulnerable to a version of Sen's liberal paradox, an inconsistency between universal domain, freedom, and the weak Pareto principle. I argue that some standard escape-routes from the liberal paradox – those via domain restriction – are not easily available to the republican. I suggest that republicans need to take seriously the challenge of the impossibility of a Paretian republican.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: Published 2004 © Cambridge University Press. LSE has developed LSE Research Online so that users may access research output of the School. Copyright and Moral Rights for the papers on this site are retained by the individual authors and/or other copyright owners. Users may download and/or print one copy of any article(s) in LSE Research Online to facilitate their private study or for non-commercial research. You may not engage in further distribution of the material or use it for any profit-making activities or any commercial gain. You may freely distribute the URL (<>) of the LSE Research Online website.
Divisions: Government
Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2006
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 00:18

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