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Whose impartiality? An experimental study of veiled stakeholders, impartial spectators and ideal observers

Author

Listed:
  • Fernando Aguiar

    () (Spanish Council for Scientific Research (IESA-CSIC))

  • Alice Becker

    () (Max Planck Institute for Economics, Jena)

  • Luis Miller

    (Nuffield Centre for Experimental Social Sciences, University of Oxford)

Abstract

This article defines in a precise manner three different mechanisms to achieve impartiality in distributive justice and studies them experimentally. We consider a first-person procedure, the Rawlsian veil of ignorance, and two third-party procedures, the impartial spectator and the ideal observer. As a result, we find striking differences in the chosen outcome distributions by the three methods. Ideal observers that do not have a stake in the allocation problem nor information about their position in society propose significantly more egalitarian distributions than veiled stakeholders or impartial spectators. Risk preferences seem to explain why participants that have a stake in the final allocation propose less egalitarian distributions. Impartial spectators that are informed about their position in society tend to favor stakeholders holding the same position.

Suggested Citation

  • Fernando Aguiar & Alice Becker & Luis Miller, 2010. "Whose impartiality? An experimental study of veiled stakeholders, impartial spectators and ideal observers," Jena Economic Research Papers 2010-040, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  • Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2010-040
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    Cited by:

    1. Cettolin, E. & Riedl, A.M., 2013. "Justice under uncertainty," Research Memorandum 036, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE).
    2. Mollerstrom, Johanna & Reme, Bjørn-Atle & Sørensen, Erik Ø., 2015. "Luck, choice and responsibility — An experimental study of fairness views," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 33-40.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    impartiality; veil of ignorance; impartial spectator; distributive justice;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values

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