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Louis Kaplow, Primary Goods, Capabilities, . . . Or Well-Being?, 116 Phil. Rev. 603 (2007).

Abstract: Theories of distributive justice and of the aggregate social good typically require a method of assessing each individual's situation. Among the common measures are primary goods, capabilities, and well-being. This article advances the argument that approaches that focus on the means of fulfillment, where the means are multi-dimensional, are subject to an objection if advanced as ideal normative theories. In general, it is possible to raise every individual's well-being by deviating from the dictates of means-based theories. This result is problematic not only on welfarist grounds but also if freedom, autonomy, or consent is regarded to be important. It is suggested that means-based theories nevertheless have appeal, but for instrumental, not intrinsic reasons.