Paretian welfare economics is generally understood as a mere variant of classical utilitarianism which rests on a specific set of assumptions about the information which is available to decision makers. But it is shown here that a deeper alteration of the meaning of the theory results from these assumptions when they are properly taken into account by means of an implicit but insufficiently recognized principle of “informational validity”. If this principle is duly applied, Paretian prescriptions coincide with liberal judgments and Paretian welfare economics can basically be viewed as a way to give a consequentialist content to deontological liberalism.
Paretian welfare economics, utilitarianism, consequentialism, liberalism.
JEL Classification: A13, D60.