Discussion Paper Series, Wilfried-Guth-Stiftungsprofessur für Ordnungs- und Wettbewerbspolitik 2017-03
In light of behavioral findings regarding inconsistent individual decision-making, economists have begun to re-conceptualize the notion of welfare. One prominent account is the preference purification approach (PP), which attempts to reconstruct preferences from revealed choices based on a normative understanding of neoclassical rationality. Using Buchanan's notion of creative choice, this paper criticizes PP's epistemic, ontological, and psychological assumptions. It identifies PP as a static position that assumes the satisfaction of given 'true preferences' as the normative standard for welfare. However, following Buchanan, choice should be understood dynamically as a process whereby preferences constantly regenerate. Accordingly, the meaning of welfare emerges from an ongoing quest for individual self-constitution. If this holds true, then rationality axioms cannot serve as a priori normative standards. Instead, creative imagination and learning processes must re-main central to any understanding of welfare in economics.
Behavioral Welfare Economics Creative Choice James M. Buchanan Rationality Methodology Subjectivism