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The Impartial Observer Theorem of Social Ethics

  • Philippe Mongin

    (CNRS & Ecole Polytechnique)

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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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.
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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  1. 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.
  2. P. Mongin & C. d'Aspremont, 1996. "Utility theory and ethics," THEMA Working Papers 96-32, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  3. Harsanyi, John C, 1995. "Games with Incomplete Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 291-303, June.
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