Philosophy Colloquium
Joseph Heath
University of Toronto
Cost-Benefit Analysis as an Expression of Liberal Neutrality

The past few decades have seen an expansion in the use of cost-benefit analysis as a tool for policy evaluation in the public sector. This slow, steady creep has been a source of consternation to many philosophers and political theorists, who are inclined to view cost-benefit analysis as simply a variant of utilitarianism, and consider utilitarianism to be completely unacceptable as a public philosophy. I will attempt to show that this impression is misleading. Despite the fact that when construed narrowly, cost-benefit analysis does look a lot like utilitarianism, when seen in its broader context, in the way that it is applied, and the type of problems to which it is applied, it is better understood as an attempt by the state to avoid taking sides with respect to various controversial conceptions of the good.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
3:30pm

Skinner 1115