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Similarity and the trustworthiness of distributive judgements

Voorhoeve, Alex, Stefansson, Arnaldur and Wallace, Brian (2019) Similarity and the trustworthiness of distributive judgements. Economics and Philosophy, 35 (3). pp. 537-561. ISSN 0266-2671

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S0266267118000457


When people must either save a greater number of people from a smaller harm or a smaller number from a greater harm, do their choices reflect a reasonable moral outlook? We pursue this question with the help of an experiment. In our experiment, two-fifths of subjects employ a similarity heuristic. When alternatives appear dissimilar in terms of the number saved but similar in terms of the magnitude of harm prevented, this heuristic mandates saving the greater number. In our experiment, this leads to choices that are inconsistent with all standard theories of justice. We argue that this demonstrates the untrustworthiness of distributive judgements in cases that elicit similarity-based choice.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 Cambridge University Press
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2018 10:58
Last Modified: 31 May 2024 21:51
Projects: AH/J006033/1
Funders: AHRC

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