Synthese:1-17 (forthcoming)

Authors
Rush T. Stewart
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München
Abstract
Epistemic states of uncertainty play important roles in ethical and political theorizing. Theories that appeal to a “veil of ignorance,” for example, analyze fairness or impartiality in terms of certain states of ignorance. It is important, then, to scrutinize proposed conceptions of ignorance and explore promising alternatives in such contexts. Here, I study Lerner’s probabilistic egalitarian theorem in the setting of imprecise probabilities. Lerner’s theorem assumes that a social planner tasked with distributing income to individuals in a population is “completely ignorant” about which utility functions belong to which individuals. Lerner models this ignorance with a certain uniform probability distribution, and shows that, under certain further assumptions, income should be equally distributed. Much of the criticism of the relevance of Lerner’s result centers on the representation of ignorance involved. Imprecise probabilities provide a general framework for reasoning about various forms of uncertainty including, in particular, ignorance. To what extent can Lerner’s conclusion be maintained in this setting?
Keywords Distributive justice  egalitarianism  imprecise probabilities  Lerner's theorem  uncertainty  utilitarianism  veil of ignorance
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-021-03217-1
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References found in this work BETA

Imprecise Probabilities.Seamus Bradley - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
On Indeterminate Probabilities.Isaac Levi - 1974 - Journal of Philosophy 71 (13):391-418.
Decision Theory as Philosophy.Mark Kaplan - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.

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