Simple maximization is precisely that in the case of a commitment to social welfare; but in the case of a commitment to individual welfare simple maximization may be interpreted as the maximization of each individual's welfare subject to there being no trade-off between individuals.
However, many have argued against the strict application of the Pareto criteria to allow at least some degree of redistribution--supporting the welfare of some at the expense of the welfare of others (of course, this debate is often conducted in terms of income, or wealth, rather than welfare).
The imposition of equality constraints may be thought of as building inequality aversion into the commitment to welfare. The equality constraint identifies the maximal extent of interpersonal inequality that will be tolerated, and this constrains the maximization process in either its individualistic or social form.
With all this in mind, we come, at last, to the question of the appropriate response of the state to claims of welfare. Clearly any state that responds to claims of welfare might be said to be a 'welfare state', but that title tends to be reserved for states in which the response takes particular forms (contrast the discussions in Goodin, 1988; Barry, 1990; Weale, 1983; Plant, 1985, 1991).
Case 1--Accept the broad definition of individual welfare as good, and the conceptualization of welfare as fully and considered informed preference satisfaction.
Case 2--Accept the broad definition of welfare as good, and the conceptualization of welfare as fully informed and considered preference satisfaction.
There are many different routes that begin in our conceptual discussion of welfare, leading to a wide range of alternative political positions each of which could legitimately claim to be a model of a 'welfare state' in that the role of the state is based on considerations of welfare, but each advocating a distinct approach to policy.
Such a policy might be justified in welfare terms by reference to an objective need for health care, perhaps combined with some commitment to positive freedoms and capabilities, or some commitment to equality of access.
We are left, then, with a problem regarding the best way to define a welfare state.
In order to make further progress with this problem, we need to set the normative politics of welfare in the context of a more positive political analysis.
The first is that the actions of individuals within the political process are normally presumed to be motivated (at least in part) by their actual preferences over the considered alternatives, rather than any idealized or fully informed preferences; so that the welfare properties of political outcomes might be expected to fall short of the normative ideal to the extent that political choices do not reflect fully informed preferences.
Considerations of issues of this sort lead to questions about the relationship between democracy and welfare policies--to what extent, for example, will the structures of democracy promote redistribution, or other aspects of welfare policy?