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The Impartial Observer Theorem of Social Ethics

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  • Philippe Mongin

    (CNRS & Ecole Polytechnique)

Abstract

Following a long-standing philosophical tradition, impartiality is a distinctive and determining feature of moral judgments, especially in matters of distributive justice. This broad ethical tradition was revived in welfare economics by Vickrey, and above all, Harsanyi, under the form of the so-called Impartial Observer Theorem. The paper offers an analytical reconstruction of this argument, using a simple mathematical formalism, as well as a conceptual critique of each its premisses.

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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/pe/papers/0510/0510002.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Public Economics with number 0510002.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: 01 Oct 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:0510002

Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 32. 'The Impartial Observer Theorem of Social Ethics' is one the recent papers which contributed to the revival of the impartiality tradition in the theory of economic justice.
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Web page: http://128.118.178.162

Related research

Keywords: Utilitarianism; Impartiality; Sympathy; Von Neumann- Morgenstern Utility Theory; Subjective Probability.;

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References

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  1. Harsanyi, John C., 1994. "Games with Incomplete Information," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 1994-1, Nobel Prize Committee.
  2. Mongin, P & d'Aspremont, C, 1996. "Utility Theory and Ethics," Papers 9632, Paris X - Nanterre, U.F.R. de Sc. Ec. Gest. Maths Infor..
  3. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Thibault Gajdos & Feriel Kandil, 2005. "The ignorant observer," Cahiers de la Maison des Sciences Economiques v06041, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), revised Mar 2006.
  2. Tim Krieger & Stefan Traub, 2008. "Back to Bismarck? Shifting Preferences for Intragenerational Redistribution in OECD Pension Systems," Working Papers CIE 13, University of Paderborn, CIE Center for International Economics.
  3. repec:hal:journl:halshs-00115722 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Simon Grant & Atsushi Kajii & Ben Polak & Zvi Safra, 2006. "Generalized Utilitarianism and Harsanyi's Partial Observer Theorem," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000419, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. Valérie Clément & Alain Marciano, 2011. "Welfarism, Libertarian Paternalism and Political Economy: Three Perspectives on Economic Expertise," Working Papers 11-23, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Nov 2011.
  6. Simon Grant & Atsushi Kajii & Ben Polak & Zvi Safra, 2012. "A generalized representation theorem for Harsanyi’s (‘impartial’) observer," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 39(4), pages 833-846, October.
  7. Peter J. Hammond, 2013. "Extending the Original Position: Revisiting the Pattanaik Critique of Vickrey/Harsanyi Utilitarianism," Global COE Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series gd12-298, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  8. 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.
  9. repec:pdn:wpaper:13 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Yoram Amiel & Frank Cowell & W Gaertner, 2006. "To be or not to be involved: a questionnaire-experimental view on Harsanyi's utilitarian ethics," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2687, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  11. repec:hal:journl:halshs-00177374 is not listed on IDEAS

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