Synthese 198 (7):6159-6182 (2021)

H. Orri Stefansson
Stockholm University
The veil of ignorance argument was used by John C. Harsanyi to defend Utilitarianism and by John Rawls to defend the absolute priority of the worst off. In a recent paper, Lara Buchak revives the veil of ignorance argument, and uses it to defend an intermediate position between Harsanyi's and Rawls' that she calls Relative Prioritarianism. None of these authors explore the implications of allowing that agent's behind the veil are averse to ambiguity. Allowing for aversion to ambiguity---which is both the most commonly observed and a seemingly reasonable attitude to ambiguity---however supports a version of Egalitarianism, whose logical form is quite different from the theories defended by the aforementioned authors. Moreover, it turns out that the veil of ignorance argument neither supports standard Utilitarianism nor Prioritarianism unless we assume that rational people are insensitive to ambiguity.
Keywords Veil of Ignorance  Distribution-Sensitive Utility  Risk  Ambiguity
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2019, 2021
DOI 10.1007/s11229-019-02455-8
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Logic of Decision.Richard C. Jeffrey - 1965 - New York, NY, USA: University of Chicago Press.
Risk and Rationality.Lara Buchak - 2013 - Oxford University Press.
A Subjectivist’s Guide to Objective Chance.David K. Lewis - 1980 - In Richard C. Jeffrey (ed.), Studies in Inductive Logic and Probability, Volume II. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 263-293.
Equality or Priority?Derek Parfit - 2002 - In Matthew Clayton & Andrew Williams (eds.), The Ideal of Equality. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 81-125.
Rational Decisions.Ken Binmore - 2008 - Princeton University Press.

View all 22 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Uncertainty, Equality, Fraternity.Rush T. Stewart - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):9603-9619.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Veil of Ignorance and Health Resource Allocation.Carlos Soto - 2012 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 37 (4):387-404.
Is There a Rawlsian Argument for Animal Rights?David Svolba - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (4):973-984.


Added to PP index

Total views
346 ( #30,320 of 2,517,922 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
37 ( #23,326 of 2,517,922 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes