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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 July 2013

Fernando Aguiar
Spanish National Research Council (IESA-CSIC), Spain
Alice Becker
Max Planck Institute of Economics, Germany
Luis Miller
University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU),


We present an experiment designed to investigate three different mechanisms to achieve impartiality in distributive justice. We consider a first-person procedure, inspired by the Rawlsian veil of ignorance, and two third-party procedures, an involved spectator and a detached observer. First-person veiled stakeholders and involved spectators are affected by an initially unfair distribution that, in the stakeholders’ case, is to be redressed. We find substantial differences in the redressing task. Detached observers propose significantly fairer redistributions than veiled stakeholders or involved spectators. Risk preferences partly explain why veiled stakeholders propose less egalitarian redistributions. Surprisingly, involved spectators, who are informed about their position in society, tend to favour stakeholders holding the same position as they do after the initial distribution.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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