Empirical Social Choice: Questionnaire-Experimental Studies on Distributive Justice
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Since Aristotle, many different theories of distributive justice have been proposed, by philosophers as well as social scientists. The typical approach within social choice theory is to assess these theories in an axiomatic way - most of the time the reader is confronted with abstract reasoning and logical deductions. This book shows that empirical insights are necessary if one wants to apply any theory of justice in the real world. It does so by confronting the main theories of distributive justice with data from (mostly) questionnaire experiments. The book starts with an extensive discussion on why empirical social choice makes sense and how it should be done. It then presents various experimental results relating to theories of distributive justice, including the Rawlsian equity axiom, Harsanyi's version of utilitarianism, utilitarianism with a floor, responsibility-sensitive egalitarianism, the claims problem and fairness in health.
contain the only piece of precise information while the low-information modes leave the external observer in a cloud of mist. We therefore doubt that the difference between high and low information can be viewed as ‘marginal’ or ‘incremental’. One could perhaps even ask to what degree the (or some of the) high-information modes are to some extent manipulative, by necessity yielding the results that the author achieved. Let us clarify our point a bit more by reproducing vignettes 2 and 3 which
the ‘veil of ignorance’ concept that were raised by the results from the questionnaire studies described in section 3.3. Both Frohlich et al. (1987) and Herne and Suojanen (2004) introduced group decision-making in their experimental setup. This is not a fully adequate representation of the individual decision-making problem that lies at the heart of the ‘veil of ignorance’ approach. In their experiment, Traub et al. (2005) depart from the idea of group discussions. They investigate the
i.e. the spread in claims is considerably reduced. This variant was given to 30 students. It offers the opportunity to check whether respondents pick the same structural solution to claims problems with different structural characteristics. Note that they can only be said to follow a rule (as deﬁned before) if they use the same solution concept consistently for all ðc; EÞ 2 C. Given that respondents can freely ﬁll in their preferred division, there is a large number of answers which do not ﬁt
relevant domain of application for social choice theory. There is general consensus in all studies that distribution matters, i.e. that health maximization as such cannot be an adequate objective for policy. Moreover, many health economists seem to believe that the principle of consumer sovereignty should also hold for drawing conclusions about distributive justice. Although we consider this to be an extreme view, we do of course agree that information about individual distributive attitudes is
to collect the necessary information about preferences (Gaertner, 2008). Note that the principle of ‘respect for preferences’ is an a priori principle, to be justiﬁed on philosophical grounds, and not on the basis of the opinions of citizens themselves. Yet, as soon as the a priori principle is accepted, empirical work may be needed to explore its implications in any speciﬁc case. A related issue is the possible conﬂict between different desirable conditions or axioms. After theory has fully