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Egalitarianism against the Veil of Ignorance

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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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
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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