A social goods approach at least has the advantage that its focus on things as goods gives us a focus on them economically, so we understand that, whether the good is access to media, access to healthcare, or access to the dole, the balance sheet still zeroes out, and someone else will have to have something less. Meanwhile, the social goods approach, while initially compelling, is logically incoherent in many ways. “ ... [T]o develop an acceptable index of primary social goods, one will need assumptions about the comparative importance of primary and social goods. ..
But if we can do that, why can't we tailor the requirements of social justice directly to what is required to provide” social justice in the first place (Arneson, cited in Brighouse and Robeyns)? The very advantage of the social goods approach, that one can measure social and primary goods and thus not be concerned about problems of excess atomism or value concerns, collapses. The social goods advocates are stuck between the horns of a dilemma: Either they do have the ability to measure adequately, and thus there is no need to adopt the social goods approach at all, or they cannot, and the capabilities approach, however subjective, is the only alternative left.
To be fair, social goods advocates often argue much in line with market advocates: That their system is the best for limited information, not none and not unlimited. But this is a razor-thin distinction, and it still is not compelling. Markets are plagued by issues such as commodity fetishism, externalities, the undervaluing of social goods and the overvaluing of private ones, information loss, etc. (Albert).
While certainly not disastrous institutions, it is absurd to say that they are the only possible decentralized system to distribute finite resources with limited information. Markets uniformly distort certain forms of information. Similarly, a social goods model, while certainly more enlightened, can similarly distort important forms of information.
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