A Pragmatic View of Fairness and Social Welfare in the Analysis of Law

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The influential legal philosopher, Alf Ross called for the development of law and economics but was highly skeptical of the use of fairness or social welfare concepts in the consequential analysis of law. I argue that Ross’ dismissal of the concepts was influenced by the philosophy of logical positivism and its narrow definition of meaning. I advocate a pragmatic view of meaning according to which a concept is meaningful if (in short) it can influence a decision maker. And I demonstrate that on this definition concepts of fairness and social welfare can be meaningfully applied in understanding and prescribing law.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
PublisherCopenhagen Business School [wp]
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2020
SeriesCBS LAW Research Paper


  • Legal philosophy
  • Alf Ross
  • Logical positivism
  • Pragmatism
  • Fairness

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