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Egalitarianism against the Veil of Ignorance

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  • John E. Roemer

    ()
    (Dept. of Psychology & Economics, Yale University)

Abstract

J. Rawls and R. Dworkin have each used veils of ignorance to justify equality (Rawls) or to compute what equality entails (Dworkin). J. Harsanyi has also derived a distributive ethic from a veil of ignorance argument, which, although not egalitarian, is believed by Harsanyi to be not excessively inegalitarian. Harsanyi's analysis does not determine a unique social choice function, but rather a family of such functions. Here, by appending more information to Harsanyi's environment, and an Axiom of Neutrality, I uniquely determine a social welfare function by extending Harsanyi's argument. I show that this function is strongly inegalitarian, in that it recommends resource transfers from disabled to able individuals. Some concluding remarks are offered against using the veil of ignorance in studying the distributive ethics.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1328.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2001
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in The Journal of Philosophy (April 2002), 99(4): 167-222
Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1328

Note: CFP 1129
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Related research

Keywords: Harsanyi; Dworkin; Rawls;

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Cited by:
  1. Juan Moreno-Ternero & John E. Roemer, 2004. "Impartiality and Priority. Part 1: The Veil of Ignorance," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1477A, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised May 2005.

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