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Non-probabilistic Decision Strategies Behind the Veil

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Notes

  1. 1.

    John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (revised edition) (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Harvard University Press, 1999), p. 13–14.

  2. 2.

    Rawls op. cit. argues that, although the agents behind the veil do not have a psychological disposition to risk-aversion, it is rational for them to choose as if they were risk averse under the highly exceptional circumstances of the original position.

  3. 3.

    John Harsanyi, “Can the Maximin Principle Serve as a Basis for Morality? A Critique of John Rawls’s Theory,” The American Political Science Review 69 (2): 598.

  4. 4.

    See, e.g., Erik Angner, “Revisiting Rawls: A Theory of Justice in the Light of Levi’s Theory of Decision,” Theoria 70 (1) (2002): 3–21; Philippe Choné, Guy Laroque, “Optimal incentives for labor force participation,” Journal of Public Economics 89 (2005): 395–425; Edward F. McClennen, “An Alternative Model of Rational Cooperation,” in M. Fleurbaey, M. Salles and J.A. Weymark (eds.), Justice, Political Liberalism and Utilitarianism: Themes from Harsanyi and Rawls (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), p. 351–386; Michael D. Resnick, Choices (Minneapolis, USA: University of Minnesota Press, 1987); Kristin S. Shrader-Frechette, Risk and Rationality: Philosophical Foundations for Populist Reforms (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991); Bertil Tungodden, “Egalitarianism: Is Leximin the Only Option?,” Economics and Philosophy 16 (2000): 229–245.

  5. 5.

    Rawls, op. cit., p. 11.

  6. 6.

    See, e.g., Harsanyi op. cit.; Resnick op.cit,; Angner op.cit.; Ken Binmore, Game Theory and The Social Contract, vol. I (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1994).

  7. 7.

    John Rawls, Justice as Fairness: A Restatement (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2001), p. 43, note 3. Many thanks to an anonymous referee for pointing this out to me and for very helpful clarifications on the matter. For discussion, see, for instance, Joshua Cohen, “Democratic Equality,” Ethics 99 (4) (1989): 727–751; Brian Barry, Theories of Justice (University of California Press, 1991), p. 179. Furthermore, the difference principle only comes second in Rawls’s priority order, after a principle regulating equal liberties. As such, discussing Rawls’s entire conception of justice as resting on his taste in decision strategies is, to say the least, apt to give rise to controversy.

  8. 8.

    See note 2.

  9. 9.

    Harsanyi op.cit., p. 598.

  10. 10.

    Ibid., p. 598.

  11. 11.

    Ibid., p. 599.

  12. 12.

    Ibid., p. 601.

  13. 13.

    See, e.g., Resnick op. cit.; Angner op. cit.; Isaac Levi, “Imprecision and Indeterminacy in Probability Judgments,” Philosophy of Science, 52 (3) (1985).

  14. 14.

    Resnick op. cit., p. 43.

  15. 15.

    Kristin Shrader-Frechette argues in a similar vein that “many rational people do not wish to gamble, especially if their lives are at stake.[…] For example, why should one choose to avoid an airplane delay (a benefit) at the risk or cost of facing a 10% probability that an essential mechanism on the plane will break down? A perfectly rational response, in such a situation, might be that one does not gamble with one’s life except to obtain a comparably great benefit.” See Kristin S. Shrader-Frechette, Risk and Rationality: Philosophical Foundations for Populist Reforms (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), p. 107.

  16. 16.

    On Rawls’s view, of course, or dm cannot know that he is facing the probabilities described in the tables below. However, this objection does not affect the point made by this paper. That is because the dm can know that these are probabilities he might be facing, which is all this argument needs in order to go through.

  17. 17.

    Levi op. cit., p. 396.

  18. 18.

    Angner op. cit, p. 2.

  19. 19.

    Isaac Levi, The Enterprise of Knowledge: An Essay on Knowledge, Credal Probability, and Chance (Massachusetts, USA: The MIT Press, 1980), p. 194.

  20. 20.

    Angner op. cit., p. 15.

  21. 21.

    Isaac Levi, The Enterprise of Knowledge: An Essay on Knowledge, Credal Probability, and Chance (Massachusetts, USA: The MIT Press, 1980), p. 162.

  22. 22.

    Resnick op. cit., p. 43.

References

  1. 1.

    Bertil Tungodden, “Egalitarianism: Is Leximin the Only Option?,” Economics and Philosophy 16 (2000): 229–245.

  2. 2.

    Brian Barry, Theories of Justice (University of California Press, 1991).

  3. 3.

    Edward F. McClennen, “An Alternative Model of Rational Cooperation,” in M. Fleurbaey, M. Salles and J.A. Weymark (eds.), Justice, Political Liberalism and Utilitarianism: Themes from Harsanyi and Rawls (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), p. 351–386.

  4. 4.

    Erik Angner, Revisiting Rawls: A Theory of Justice in the Light of Levi’s Theory of Decision,” Theoria 70 (1) (2002): 3–21.

  5. 5.

    François, Maniquet, Yves Sprumont, “Fair production and allocation of an excludable nonrival good,” Econometrica 72 (2004): 627–640.

  6. 6.

    Isaac Levi, The Enterprise of Knowledge: An Essay on Knowledge, Credal Probability, and Chance (Massachusetts, USA: The MIT Press, 1980).

  7. 7.

    Isaac Levi, “Imprecision and Indeterminacy in Probability Judgments,” Philosophy of Science, 52 (3) (1985): 390–409.

  8. 8.

    John Harsanyi, “Can the Maximin Principle Serve as a Basis for Morality? A Critique of John Rawls’s Theory,” The American Political Science Review 69 (2) (1975): 594–606.

  9. 9.

    John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (revised edition) (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Harvard University Press, 1999).

  10. 10.

    John Rawls, Justice as Fairness: A Restatement (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2001).

  11. 11.

    Joshua Cohen, “Democratic Equality,” Ethics 99 (4) (1989): 727–751.

  12. 12.

    Ken Binmore, Game Theory and The Social Contract, vol. I (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1994).

  13. 13.

    Kristin S. Shrader-Frechette, Risk and Rationality: Philosophical Foundations for Populist Reforms (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991).

  14. 14.

    Michael D. Resnick, Choices (Minneapolis, USA: University of Minnesota Press, 1987).

  15. 15.

    Philippe Choné, Guy Laroque, “Optimal incentives for labor force participation,” Journal of Public Economics 89 (2005): 395–425.

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Simion, M. Non-probabilistic Decision Strategies Behind the Veil. J Value Inquiry 50, 557–572 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10790-015-9536-3

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Keywords

  • Risk Aversion
  • Decision Strategy
  • Difference Principle
  • Expect Utility Maximization
  • Minimax Regret