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Lady Chatterley's Lover or the Poverty of Social Choice

By Pedro Schwartz

Although Lady Chatterley, her husband, and her gamekeeper were all English characters in D.H. Lawrence's novel, it would be difficult to reduce what Professor Amartya Sen had to say about this book into a merely European question. Sen made his point relevant to political philosophy in every part of the democratic world. Lady Chatterley's Lover, privately printed in France in 1928, published without cuts in the United States in 1946, was the object of an obscenity trial in London in 1960. The English jury cleared it for publication, a verdict that, by dealing a blow to obscenity laws, resounded round the world. Actually, the reason why Sen, an Indian economist by birth, used it in his welfare analysis had little to do with its literary contents. Sen may not have even read it, for all I know. So let us leave Europe for a while to enter the Theory of Social Choice. Amartya Sen in his monograph on Collective Choice and Social Welfare1 used the disagreement about the proper way to deal...

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