Policy analysis usually defines its objectives and constraints too narrowly. It rarely includes consideration of social justice, and more seldom such values as beauty, honor, and dignity. Because these broader considerations are so difficult to introduce, we tend instead to rely on the wisdom and sensitivity of decisionmakers, as well as analysts who may be only modestly endowed with these characteristics. Yet the limitations in our ability to acquire or impart wisdom are severe. Hence, the scope of costs and benefits policy studies should be widened to include these broader considerations. Any value can be included provided we have the ingenuity to specify its importance relative to other values. There are tradeoffs among social values just as there are trade-offs among private values. The tools and concepts of economic price theory are potentially applicable to the analysis of ethical issues. The opportunity costs associated with any single ethical value must be identified and evaluated when one chooses among alternative courses.
Wolf, Charles, Jr., Ethics and Policy Analysis. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 1980. https://www.rand.org/pubs/papers/P6463-2.html. Also available in print form.
Wolf, Charles, Jr., Ethics and Policy Analysis, Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Corporation, P-6463-2, 1980. As of September 08, 2021: https://www.rand.org/pubs/papers/P6463-2.html