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The varieties of impartiality, or, would an egalitarian endorse the veil?

Bruner, J. P. & Lindauer, M., Feb-2020, In : Philosophical Studies. 177, p. 459-477 19 p.

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  • The varieties of impartiality, or, would an egalitarian endorse the veil?

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DOI

  • Justin P. Bruner
  • Matthew Lindauer
Social contract theorists often take the ideal contract to be the agreement or bargain individuals would make in some privileged choice situation (i.e., an ‘original position’). Recently, experimental philosophers have explored this kind of decision-making in the lab. One rather robust finding is that the exact circumstances of choice significantly affect the kinds of social arrangements experimental subjects (almost) unanimously endorse. Yet prior work has largely ignored the question of which of the many competing descriptions of the original position subjects find most compelling. This paper aims to address this gap, exploring how attractive experimental subjects find various characterizations of these circumstances of choice. We find evidence suggesting that no one choice situation can fulfill the role that social contract theorists have hoped it would play. We also find that, contrary to what some prominent social contract theorists have expected, there is no robust relationship between an individual’s ranking of distributive principles and their ranking of various descriptions of the original position. In conclusion, we discuss the broader implications of these results for political philosophy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-477
Number of pages19
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Volume177
Early online date27-Oct-2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2020

    Keywords

  • impartiality, distributive justice, empirical, political philosophy, social contract
Related Publications
  1. Correction to: The varieties of impartiality, or, would an egalitarian endorse the veil?

    Bruner, J. P. & Lindauer, M., Feb-2020, In : Philosophical Studies. 177, 2, p. 479-481 3 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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