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Elena Cettolin, Maastricht Print
Friday, 30 November 2012, 12:15 - 13:15

Elena Cettolin, Maastricht University

Justice under Uncertainty

Abstract: In many situations resources have to be allocated before, or without, knowing the true state of nature that actually influences the resources' final distribution among recipients. People often disagree on what constitutes a fair allocation in this type of distribution problem, even when they do not have stakes in it. For instance, organs are transplanted before observing the number of years patients live after the transplant and the debate around organ allocation criteria is not yet settled. This paper reports the results of an experiment designed to investigate people's ideas about fairness in situations where the state of nature determining the final distribution of resources is uncertain at the moment of the resources' partitioning. We find that, compared to a situation where risk is absent, people hold very heterogeneous ideas about fair allocations, which also depend on their own risk preferences. In theory, three distributive justice principles may be endorsed in the studied distribution problems: our data show that each principle motivates a significant share of the observed allocations. Furthermore, we observe that the interpretation of distributive principles is related to the degree of risk characterizing the situation and hence, context dependent;

Location: R42.2.113
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