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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.

Suggested Citation

  • John E. Roemer, 2001. "Egalitarianism against the Veil of Ignorance," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1328, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1328
    Note: CFP 1129

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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.

    More about this item


    Harsanyi; Dworkin; Rawls;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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