CSER Public Lecture: Matthew Adler: Measuring Social Welfare

Matthew D. Adler is the Richard A. Horvitz Professor of Law and Professor of Economics, Philosophy and Public Policy at Duke University.   He also holds a 3-year position as the Ludwig M. Lachmann Professorial Research Fellow at the London School of Economics.  He is an editor of the journal Economics and Philosophy.

Adler’s scholarship is interdisciplinary, drawing from welfare economics, normative ethics, and legal theory.  His current research agenda focuses on “prioritarianism”—a refinement to utilitarianism that gives extra weight (“priority”) to the worse off. He writes about the theoretical foundations of prioritarianism; its implementation as a policy analysis methodology, in the form of a “social welfare function” or cost-benefit analysis with distributional weights; and its application to a variety of policy domains, including climate change, risk regulation, and health policy.   

Adler is the author of numerous articles and several monographs, including New Foundations of Cost-Benefit Analysis (Harvard, 2006; co-authored with Eric Posner); Well-Being and Fair Distribution: Beyond Cost-Benefit Analysis (Oxford, 2012); and Measuring Social Welfare: An Introduction (Oxford, 2019). With Marc Fleurbaey, he edited the Oxford Handbook of Well-Being and Public Policy (2016). Along with Ole Norheim, he is the co-founder of the Prioritarianism in Practice Research Network, whose work will appear in an edited volume, Prioritarianism in Practice (under contract, Cambridge University Press).

His lecture will be about Measuring Social Welfare, a systematic overview of the social-welfare-function framework, with particular reference to prioritarianism.

This lecture is part of the Blavatnik Public Lecture Series at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk.

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