An Ethically Neutral Decision Aid

SSRN Electronic Journal 10/1998; DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.163548


Decision Analysis can not be done without some reflection on the normative grounds of the analysis. The aim of decision analysis is to recommend an action. This recommendation constitutes a normative act. There are mainly two economic decision analyses: Cost-benefit analysis and multi-criteria-analysis (MCA). The latter uses evaluations on several criteria to recommend a decision. The discussion about the superiority of one of these instruments is usually based on the question whether the interests of the decision maker are more adequately integrated into a mono- or multi-criteria analysis (see for example MUNDA 1996). In my paper I go one step further: I take it as evident that in certain contexts - which are here environmental decisions in the framework of sustainable development - interests are more adequately reflected by several criteria. I ask how these criteria would have to be constructed to integrate all possible arguments of the decision maker. The answer to this question, an explicitly normative discourse, leads to the idea of the implementation of an ethically neutral MCA. The chosen ethical foundation, pluralism, enforces the positive aspects of participation. The final paragraph illustrates the argument through a (still hypothetical) example.

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