Well-Being and Fair Distribution
Beyond Cost-Benefit Analysis
Reviews and Awards
"Matthew D. Adler's exceptional book offers both an in-depth exploration of the foundations of welfare analysis and an engaging plea for a particular approach, with refreshing constructive proposals. Masterfully done."
--Marc Fleurbaey, Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Public Affairs and the University Center for Human Values, Princeton University
"In Well-Being and Fair Distribution Matthew D. Adler holds up a very simple and plausible idea and defends it with strong analytical intelligence, technical skill, humane passion and philosophical savvy. The idea he defends is that law and institutions should be set to maximize a prioritarian social welfare function. We should seek to increase aggregate well-being for people, and in doing so, give extra weight to achieving gains for a person, the worse off she would otherwise be. This outstanding book makes this idea vivid and precise and indicates its main implications for public policy."
--Richard Arneson, Distinguished Professor, University of California, San Diego
"In Well-Being and Fair Distribution, Professor Matthew Adler develops a compelling alternative to CBA -- the Social Welfare Function (SWF) -- which expands upon and refines the welfarist framework to incorporate fairness and distributional concerns...The result is a creative and commanding (if technical) reconstitution of welfarist policy analysis that should give practitioners a useful new tool and academics a fresh perspective on an old debate."
--Harvard Law Review
"Matthew Adler develops and defends a particular view on how the appraisal of social policies should be performed and in doing so offers a new and refreshing take on the subject of fair distribution."
-- Efthymios Athanasiou, Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics
"In its ambition -- to defend within the four corners of welfarism a particular version of the social welfare function (SWF) -- this book represents a stunning achievement. This book is so definitive that further discussion of welfarism must reckon with it. Anyone who wants to comment intelligently on the welfarist program from within it must first master the intricate and difficult argument of this book -- a bar to market entry so high that it ought to dissuade all but the most erudite or intrepid theoreticians."
--Mark Sagoff, George Mason University, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
"Well-Being and Fair Distribution is a remarkable achievement. It is several books in one, drawing on many different literatures in philosophy, economics, decision theory and law. The vast knowledge that it demonstrates and the care, persistence and precision of its argumentation are hard to convey. I know of no work in its field that compares with itEL A less brilliant and comprehensive treatment would leave one wondering if the project might be made to work by a smarter and more diligent author. Adler's remarkable efforts leave those who wish to rely on social welfare functions with no such hopes. Despite the genius with which the approach is developed, the approach is, I believe, hopeless; and the very genius with which it is developed establishes this conclusion."
-- Daniel M. Hausman, Economics and Philosophy Journal
"[Adler's] arguments are forceful at every turn. The book certainly deserves to be read by academics with interests in the concept of well-being as well as approaches to making large-scale public decisions. The book is masterful. Its value is not primarily in its originality...but rather in its impressive exposition, synthesis, and defense of those ideas."
--Ty Raterman, Ethics
"Well-Being and Fair Distribution: Beyond Cost-Benefit Analysis is an important book that effectively highlights both the significance and the difficulties of building fair social policies that improve well-being. It is admittedly a challenging read, which is to be expected, given the hard and complex questions it tackles. The reader who perseveres will be rewarded with a rich appreciation of these critical issues."
--Arden Rowell, Risk Analysis
"Well-Being and Fair Distribution displays a breathtaking knowledge of philosophy, law, decision theory, and social choice. I predict that engagement with the book will prove similarly rewarding for anyone in the field."
--Alex Voorhoeve, Social Choice and Welfare
"Adler's book is state-of-the-art...[it] does a superb job at presenting issues in highly intuitive terms. Anyone with serious interests in consequentialist moral theory should read this book."
--Peter Vallentyne, Analysis Reviews
"This book may be the work that will truly raise the profile of post-CBA welfare economics within economics-including prioritarianism, of course, but perhaps beyond. With Adler's book and his successful challenge to frame a truly pluridisciplinary, non-technical and complete analysis, we can hope that this considerable area of research may become better understood and more widely recognized. At the very least, we may say that this book is what was needed to mark the start of a new era for welfare economics."
--Antoinette Baujard, Oeconomia
"[Adler's] book invites a focus for moral criticism of legal and regulatory decision making that is appropriate to the target of that type of decision making - human wellbeing - and commensurate with its scope and reach. It is a marked improvement over our current limited reliance on the criticism of law by prior law, criticism of law by reference to deontological premises in a few fields, and critique of the rest of it by reference to preference-maximization techniques familiar from economic analysis."
--Robin West, The Journal of Things We Like (Lots)