Rawls’s Difference Principle and Maximin Rule of Allocation: A New Analysis

26 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2019

See all articles by Philippe Mongin

Philippe Mongin

GREGHEC; CNRS & HEC Paris - Economics & Decision Sciences

Marcus Pivato

THEMA, CY Cergy Paris Université

Date Written: November 18, 2019

Abstract

If Rawls’s A Theory of Justice has achieved fame among economists, this is due to his Difference Principle, which says that inequalities of resources should be to the benefit of the less fortunate, or more operationally, that allocations of resources should be ranked by the maximin criterion. We extend the Rawlsian maximin in two ways: first, by resorting to the more general min-of-means formula of decision theory, second, by addressing the case where the resources accruing to each individual are uncertain to society. For the latter purpose, we resort to the ex ante versus ex post distinction of welfare economics. The paper axiomatically characterizes the ex ante and ex post forms of the Rawlsian maximin and compares them in terms of egalitarian criteria. It finally recommends and axiomatizes a compromise egalitarian theory that mixes the two forms.

Keywords: Rawls; Difference Principle; egalitarian; uncertainty; ex ante; ex post; min of means

JEL Classification: D63, D71, D81, I30

Suggested Citation

Mongin, Philippe and Pivato, Marcus, Rawls’s Difference Principle and Maximin Rule of Allocation: A New Analysis (November 18, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3489059 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3489059

Philippe Mongin

GREGHEC ( email )

1 rue de la Libération
Jouy-en-Josas, 78350
France

CNRS & HEC Paris - Economics & Decision Sciences ( email )

Paris
France

Marcus Pivato (Contact Author)

THEMA, CY Cergy Paris Université ( email )

33 Boulevard du Port
Cergy-Pontoise Cedex, Cedex 95011
France

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/marcuspivato/

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