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WELFARISM

If ethics cannot be eliminated, what values should be to the fore? The next strand of economic realism—its sympathy for “welfarism”—might be read as suggesting an answer. Welfarists “seek policies that maximize people’s wellbeing.”34 This view has great appeal for some economic realists, and many interpret national self-i nterest in welfarist terms. Still, these sympathies create tensions between the various strands of anti-ethics argument, threatening incoherence. For instance, at one point Posner and Weisbach officially endorse both welfarism and International Paretianism (“feasibility and welfarism are the two pillars of a successful climate treaty”35), and conceive of welfarism as an ethical position (“[the challenge is to] construct a treaty that is both ethical and feasible”36); hence, they implicitly disavow the pure policy and scientific imperialist strands. More strikingly, welfarism sometimes leads economic realists to reject International Paretianism. Elsewhere Posner and Sunstein explicitly do so, and illustrate this by saying that they support a nation preventing genocide at a modest cost to itself “even if that nation is a net loser.”37 Intriguingly, Posner and Weisbach also claim that “wealthy nations have an ethical obligation to help the poor [in poor nations]” which “goes beyond their natural charitable inclinations.”38

 
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