Skip to main content

Liberal Rights in a Pareto-optimal Code


A Millian response is presented to Sen's celebrated Paretian liberal impossibility theorem. It is argued that Millian Paretian liberalism is possible, if the application of Paretian norms is restricted to the selection of an optimal code of liberal justice and rights, as well as to individual choices made in compliance with the rules of the code. Key steps in outlining the Millian response include suitably modifying Sen's social choice formulation of the idea of claim-right to personal liberty, and incorporating within social choice theory the distinction between a right and its direction of exercise. The Millian response is illustrated in the context of Sen's original example of the ‘prude’ and the ‘lewd’. If the argument is successful, coherent and appealing liberal versions of Pareto-inclusive philosophies such as utilitarianism, contractualism and neo-republicanism are feasible in principle.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0953-8208
  • EISSN: 1741-6183
  • URL: /core/journals/utilitas
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 34 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 274 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.