Edited by John B. Davis and Wilfred Dolfsma
Chapter 8: The social dimension of internal conflict
When questions of justice are addressed by social economists, the usual focus is on distributive justice. While widening income and wealth disparities are making such distributive issues more urgent than ever, this chapter will focus on a question just as important to a society having complete economic equality as to a society with great inequality. Are the rules by which the actions of sellers influence the tastes of buyers to be regarded as just? Sections 1 and 2 will provide some background, defining second-order preferences and summarizing my previous conclusions about the market’s failure in shaping preferences. The two sections that then follow will address social issues. Section 3 considers the impact that social forces other than the market have on our preferences while Section 4 explores how the social considerations of preferred preferences compare to the social considerations of preferences that are not preferred. Section 5 describes why ‘two-selves’ models of conflict have prevailed in mainstream theory and the limitations of these models, and Section 6 reflects on future trends and offers some policy suggestions.
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