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Social Choice with Individual and Group Rights

  • Liberalism, Independent Rights and the Pareto Principle,” in L.J. Cohen, J. Łoś, H. Pfeiffer and K.-P. Podewski (eds.), Logic, Methodology and the Philosophy of Science VI, (North-Holland, 1982), pp. 607–620.

  • Social Choice of Individual and Group Rights in W.A. Barnett, H. Moulin, M. Salles, and N. Schofield (eds.), Social Choice, Welfare, and Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), ch. 3, pp. 55–77.


    Individual rights can generally be respected if and, except in rare special cases, only if they apply to independent components of a Cartesian product space of social states, and also each individual is indifferent to how others exercise their rights. This is true whether or not the Pareto criterion is satisfied. Group rights can also be respected if they apply to the independent components for the different individual members of the group. This holds not only for social choice rules, but also for outcomes that arise when individuals and groups use equilibrium strategies in some game form. So only exceptionally is it possible to respect all rights. The paper concludes by considering different ways of including rights in the social states which are the object of individual preference and of social choice. PDF file of preprint

  • Game Forms versus Social Choice Rules as Models of Rights in K.J. Arrow, A.K. Sen, and K. Suzumura (eds.) Social Choice Re-examined, Vol. II (IEA Conference Volume No. 117) (London: Macmillan, 1997) ch. 11, pp. 82–95.


    The paper begins by defining multi-valued game forms which generalize social choice rules. It also defines the effectiveness relations that represent the rights induced by such game forms. When one-way instead of two-way rights are allowed, it also demonstrates yet further difficulties in finding a social choice rule to respect all rights. Finally, to deal with the problem that game forms typically contain arbitrary features of no consequence to a society or to its individual members, it is also suggested that one should define both social choice and individual values over sets consisting of “consequentially equivalent” classes of strategic game forms. PDF file of preprint

  • Rights, Free Exchange, and Widespread Externalities in J.-F. Laslier, M. Fleurbaey, N. Gravel and A. Trannoy (eds.) Freedom in Economics: New Perspectives in Normative Analysis (London and New York: Routledge, 1998), ch. 11, pp. 139–157.


    Sen’s libertarian paradox is ascribed to the inevitable conflict between the Pareto criterion and individuals’ rights to create negative externalities. Finite coalitions can effect exchanges of rights through Coaseian bargains in order to resolve inefficiencies due to local externalities. With a continuum of agents, however, finite coalitions are powerless to affect widespread externalities, except those that are regulated by policies such as inefficiently allocated quotas. Then finite coalitions may gain by exchanging such quotas, but Pareto improvements may require originally unused quotas to be confiscated. Thus, the voluntary exchange of rights may exacerbate widespread externalities. PDF file of preprint

  • Difficulties with the Social Choice Approach to Rights: Some comments on Brunel and Salles,” in J.-F. Laslier, M. Fleurbaey, N. Gravel and A. Trannoy (eds.) Freedom in Economics: New Perspectives in Normative Analysis (London and New York: Routledge, 1998), ch. 8, pp. 112–5.
    PDF file of preprint

  • Equal Rights to Trade and Mediate Social Choice and Welfare (Special issue on “The axiomatic theory of resource allocation — In honour of Louis Gevers” edited by C. d’Aspremont and F. Maniquet) 21 (2003), 181–193.


    For economies with a fixed finite set of traders, few results characterize Walrasian equilibria by their social choice properties. Pareto efficient allocations typically require lump-sum transfers. Other characterizations based on the core or strategyproofness apply only when, as in continuum economies, agents cannot influence prices strategically. Or the results concern social choice with a variable number of agents. This paper considers allocations granting agents equal rights to choose net trade vectors within a convex cone and, in order to exclude autarky, an additional right to mediate mutually beneficial transactions. Under standard assumptions, these properties characterize Walrasian equilibria without transfers.
    PDF file of preprint ; Springer link

  • On Dynamic Liberalism,” preprint, Australian National University, 1974.