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Fairness in law and economics – Requiem for a paradox?

Political Economy
Political Theory
Normative Theory
P08

Tuesday 14:00 - 16:00 (31/01/2023)


Abstract

The bulk of the Neoclassical criticism against fairness considerations in legal and economic policy is grounded on the assertion that such considerations are grounded in artificially erected and highly subjective social norms, while reliance on 'objective' notions such as rationality and efficiency would be a more coherent and 'objective' way of applying laws and economic policies. The Legal positivist approach endorses this position, in the tradition of Alf Ross et alia., which contrast against a Kantian legal philosophy, where justice is the main defining character of what constitutes a law. The claim that fairness ought not to be an legal-economic concept seems nonetheless refuted by the very essence of political economy, where the main element of rent theory was the unequitable effect it produced, as originally developed by David Ricardo et. alia. In recent decades, a considerable body of economics have been devoted to the question of fairness and economics, and related matters of 'fair pricing' and 'fairness in pricing'. The present challenge seems less one of finding alternative approaches, but rather to recognise and integrate such approaches in the 'mainstream' discourse. It is thus argued that fairness both could and should be an economic concept in its own right.