2009-06: Piercing the Veil of Ignorance


Theories of justice in the spirit of Harsanyi and Rawls argue that fair-minded people should aspire to make choices for society — that is, for themselves and for others — as if in the original position, behind a veil of ignorance that prevents them from knowing their own social and economic positions in society. While the original position is a purely hypothetical situation, developed as a thought experiment, the main result of this paper is that (under certain assumptions) preferences — hence choices — behind the veil of ignorance are determined by preferences in front of the veil of ignorance. This linkage between preferences behind and in front of the veil of ignorance has implications for distributive theories of justice and for theories of choice.

Shachar Kariv
William R. Zame
Publication date: 
September 15, 2009
Publication type: 
2009 Working Papers