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Impartiality and Priority. Part 1: The Veil of Ignorance

The veil of ignorance has been used often as a tool for recommending what justice requires with respect to the distribution of wealth. We complete Harsanyi’s model of the veil of ignorance by appending information permitting interpersonal comparability of welfare. We show that the veil-of-ignorance conception of John Harsanyi, so completed, and Ronald Dworkin’s, when modeled formally, recommend wealth allocations in conflict with the prominently espoused view that priority should be given to the worse off with respect to wealth allocation.

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File URL: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/P/cd/d14b/d1477-a.pdf
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Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1477A.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2004
Date of revision: May 2005
Publication status: Published in Economics and Philosophy (2008), 24(2): 233-257
Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1477a
Contact details of provider: Postal: Yale University, Box 208281, New Haven, CT 06520-8281 USA
Phone: (203) 432-3702
Fax: (203) 432-6167
Web page: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/

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Order Information: Postal: Cowles Foundation, Yale University, Box 208281, New Haven, CT 06520-8281 USA

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  1. DHILLON, Amrita & MERTENS, Jean-François, 1993. "Relative Utilitarianism," CORE Discussion Papers 1993048, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  2. P. Mongin., 1999. "The impartial observer theorem of social ethics," THEMA Working Papers 99-33, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  3. Arrow, Kenneth J, 1977. "Extended Sympathy and the Possibility of Social Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(1), pages 219-25, February.
  4. Uzi Segal, 2000. "Let's Agree That All Dictatorships Are Equally Bad," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 569-589, June.
  5. John C. Harsanyi, 1953. "Cardinal Utility in Welfare Economics and in the Theory of Risk-taking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61, pages 434.
  6. John E. Roemer, 2003. "Eclectic Distributional Ethics," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1408, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  7. Edi Karni, 2003. "Impartiality and interpersonal comparisons of variations in well-being," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 95-111, 08.
  8. Edi Karni, 1998. "Impartiality: Definition and Representation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(6), pages 1405-1416, November.
  9. John E. Roemer, 2001. "Egalitarianism against the Veil of Ignorance," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1328, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  10. Juan Moreno-Ternero & John E. Roemer, 2004. "Impartiality and Priority. Part 2: A Characterization with Solidarity," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1477B, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised May 2005.
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