Edited by John B. Davis and Wilfred Dolfsma
Chapter 7: The Social Dimension of Internal Conflict
7 The social dimension of internal conﬂict David George 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. 1. Deﬁning second-order preferences A ﬁrst step in distinguishing metapreferences (or ‘second-order preferences’) from ‘regular’ preferences (or ‘ﬁrst-order preferences’) is to specify what a second-order preference is not. It is not, as sometimes suggested, simply a better preference. One believing that it is might say, for example, that a person unhappy with her eating habits likely has a...
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