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Liberal Egalitarianism and the Harm Principle

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  • Michele Lombardi
  • Roberto Veneziani

Abstract

This paper analyses Rawls's celebrated difference principle, and its lexicographic extension, in societies with a finite and an infinite number of agents. A unified framework of analysis is set up, which allows one to characterise Rawlsian egalitarian principles by means of a weaker version of a new axiom - the Harm Principle - recently proposed by [13]. This is quite surprising, because the Harm principle is meant to capture a liberal requirement of noninterference and it incorporates no obvious egalitarian content. A set of new characterisations of the maximin and of its lexicographic refinement are derived, including in the intergenerational context with an infinite number of agents.

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File URL: http://gcoe.ier.hit-u.ac.jp/research/discussion/2008/pdf/gd09-078.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University in its series Global COE Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series with number gd09-078.

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Date of creation: Jul 2009
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Handle: RePEc:hst:ghsdps:gd09-078

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Keywords: Difference principle; leximin; weak harm priciple; infinite utility streams;

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Cited by:
  1. Marco Mariotti & Roberto Veneziani, 2014. "The Liberal Ethics of Non-Interference and the Pareto Principle," Discussion Paper Series, Department of Economics 201404, Department of Economics, University of St. Andrews, revised 01 Apr 2014.
  2. Michele Lombardi & Roberto Veneziani, 2009. "Liberal Egalitarianism and the Harm Principle," Working Papers 649, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
  3. José Alcantud, 2013. "Liberal approaches to ranking infinite utility streams: when can we avoid interference?," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 381-396, July.
  4. Alcantud, José Carlos R. & García-Sanz, María D., 2010. "Evaluations of infinite utility streams: Pareto-efficient and egalitarian axiomatics," MPRA Paper 20133, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Marco Mariotti & Roberto Veneziani, 2009. "The Paradoxes of the Liberal Ethics of Non-interference," Working Papers 653, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
  6. Marco Mariotti & Roberto Veneziani, 2012. "Opportunities as chances: maximising the probability that everybody succeeds," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2012-09, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  7. Mariotti, Marco & Veneziani, Roberto, 2013. "On the impossibility of complete Non-Interference in Paretian social judgements," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(4), pages 1689-1699.
  8. Mariotti, Marco & Veneziani, Roberto, 2012. "Allocating chances of success in finite and infinite societies: The utilitarian criterion," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 226-236.

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