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A Fair Share

Michael Jackson and Peter Hill

Journal of Theoretical Politics, 1995, vol. 7, issue 2, 169-179

Abstract: `I just want a fair share!' We all say it, but what is fair? The most complete answer is John Rawls's A Theory of Justice. Experimental tests of Rawls's theory were conducted to generate some empirical data to compare with similar studies done in the United States and Poland by Norm Frohlich and Joe Oppenheimer. The subjects were university students who made decisions behind a veil of ignorance to govern subsequent distributions of money. Subjects identified and agreed on distributive principles, as Rawls's theory asserts, but they gave little support to Rawls's principle of maximizing the worst off. The main conclusion is that individuals and groups have complex conceptions of justice that do not reduce to a simple principle. These subjects were less confident than their American counterparts, and they changed their minds as the experiment continued.

Keywords: justice; Rawls; experiments; Frohlich; Oppenheimer (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 1995
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Handle: RePEc:sae:jothpo:v:7:y:1995:i:2:p:169-179