Economics and Philosophy 28 (1):43-71 (2012)

Authors
Samir Okasha
University of Bristol
Abstract
John Harsanyi and John Rawls both used the veil of ignorance thought experiment to study the problem of choosing between alternative social arrangements. With his ‘impartial observer theorem’, Harsanyi tried to show that the veil of ignorance argument leads inevitably to utilitarianism, an argument criticized by Sen, Weymark and others. A quite different use of the veil-of-ignorance concept is found in evolutionary biology. In the cell-division process called meiosis, in which sexually reproducing organisms produce gametes, the chromosome number is halved; when meiosis is fair, each gene has only a fifty percent chance of making it into any gamete. This creates a Mendelian veil of ignorance, which has the effect of aligning the interests of all the genes in an organism. This paper shows how Harsanyi's version of the veil-of-ignorance argument can shed light on Mendelian genetics. There turns out to be an intriguing biological analogue of the impartial observer theorem that is immune from the Sen/Weymark objections to Harsanyi's original. View HTML Send article to KindleTo send this article to your Kindle, first ensure [email protected] is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply. Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.SOCIAL JUSTICE, GENOMIC JUSTICE AND THE VEIL OF IGNORANCE: HARSANYI MEETS MENDELVolume 28, Issue 1Samir Okasha DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0266267112000119Your Kindle email address Please provide your Kindle [email protected]@kindle.com Available formats PDF Please select a format to send. By using this service, you agree that you will only keep articles for personal use, and will not openly distribute them via Dropbox, Google Drive or other file sharing services. Please confirm that you accept the terms of use. Cancel Send ×Send article to Dropbox To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox. SOCIAL JUSTICE, GENOMIC JUSTICE AND THE VEIL OF IGNORANCE: HARSANYI MEETS MENDELVolume 28, Issue 1Samir Okasha DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0266267112000119Available formats PDF Please select a format to send. By using this service, you agree that you will only keep articles for personal use, and will not openly distribute them via Dropbox, Google Drive or other file sharing services. Please confirm that you accept the terms of use. Cancel Send ×Send article to Google Drive To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive. SOCIAL JUSTICE, GENOMIC JUSTICE AND THE VEIL OF IGNORANCE: HARSANYI MEETS MENDELVolume 28, Issue 1Samir Okasha DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0266267112000119Available formats PDF Please select a format to send. By using this service, you agree that you will only keep articles for personal use, and will not openly distribute them via Dropbox, Google Drive or other file sharing services. Please confirm that you accept the terms of use. Cancel Send ×Export citation Request permission.
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DOI 10.1017/s0266267112000119
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References found in this work BETA

Evolution of the Social Contract.Brian Skyrms - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.
Social Choice and Individual Values.Irving M. Copi - 1952 - Science and Society 16 (2):181-181.

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Citations of this work BETA

Samir Okasha’s Philosophy.Walter Veit - forthcoming - Lato Sensu: Revue de la Société de Philosophie des Sciences.

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