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Vol 23 No 5 May/June 2018

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Theories of Distributive Justice

ISBN13: 9780674879195
ISBN: 0674879198
Published: April 1996
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Country of Publication: USA
Format: Hardback
Price: Out of print
Paperback edition , ISBN13 9780674879201

This text critiques economists' conceptions of justice from a philosophical perspective and philosophical theories of distributive justice from an economic one.

He unites the economist's skill in constructing precise axiomatic models with the philosopher's in exploring the assumptions of those models. His synthesis should enable philosophers and economists to engage each other's ideas more fruitfully.

Roemer first shows how economists' understanding of the fairness of various resource allocation mechanisms can be enriched. He extends the economic theory of social choice to show how individual preferences can be aggregated into social preferences over various alternatives. He critiques the standard applications of axiomatic bargaining theory to distributive justice, showing that they ignore information on available resources and preference orderings.

He puts these variables in the models, which enable him to generate resource allocation mechanisms that are more consonant with our intuitions about distributive justice. He then critiques economists' theories of utilitarianism and examines the question of the optimal population size in a world of finite resources.;Roemer explores the major new philosophical concepts of the theory of distributive justice - primary goods, functionings and capability, responsibility in its various forms, procedural versus outcome justice, midfare - and shows how they can be sharpened and clarified with the aid of economic analysis.

He critiques and extends the ideas of major contemporary theories of distributive justice, including those of Rawls, Sen, Nozick and Dworkin. Beginning from the recent theories of Arneson and G.A. Cohen, he constructs a theory of equality of opportunity. Theories of Distributive Justice contains important results, and it can also be used as a graduate-level text in economics and philosophy.

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Part 1 The measurement of utility and Arrow's theorem: the measurability and comparability of utility; the Arrow impossibility theorem; reformulation of the impossibility theorem with utility functions; the connection between Arrovian social choice and distributive justice; social choice on economic environments.
Part 2 Axiomatic bargaining theory: justice as rational prudence; the Nash bargaining solution; other axiomatizations of the Nash solution; the Kalai-Smorodinsky and egalitarian solutions; a criticism from the economic point of view.
Part 3 Axiomatic mechanism theory on economic environments: introduction; the domain of economic environments; axioms and theorems on economic environments; proofs of theorems; naming utility and goods.
Part 4 Utilitarianism: introduction; Maskin's theorem; the representation theorems of Harsanyi and Myerson; utilitarianism from behind the veil of ignorance; an implication for the interpretation of individual optimization under uncertainty; optimal population size.
Part 5 Primary goods, fundamental preferences, and functionings: countering utilitarianism; primary goods, welfare and equality; Rawl's arguments for maximin (the difference principle); the Cohen criticism; Kolm's fundamental preferences; functionings and capability; equality of functionings or primary goods - an alternative approach.
Part 6 Neo-Lockeanism and self- ownership: Nozick's theory of distributive justice; challenges to Nozick; joint ownership of the external world; generalizations of Locke on economic environments; implementation; the morality of self-ownership.
Part 7 Equality of welfare versus equality of resources: introduction; Dworkin on equality of welfare; countering Dworkin's central argument against equality of welfare; Dworkin's definition of equality of resources; an axiomatic approach to equality of resources.
Part 8 Equality of opportunity for welfare: relocating Dworkin's cut, 1; relocating Dworkin's cut, 2; equality of opportunity - an example; equality of opportunity - a formalization; a discrete formulation of equality of opportunity; examples of the EOp mechanism; related approaches to equality of opportunity.