Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Fairness and Aggregation

  • A. C. PASEAU (a1) and BEN SAUNDERS (a2)

Sometimes, two unfair distributions cancel out in aggregate. Paradoxically, two distributions each of which is fair in isolation may give rise to aggregate unfairness. When assessing the fairness of distributions, it therefore matters whether we assess transactions piecemeal or focus only on the overall result. This piece illustrates these difficulties for two leading theories of fairness (proportionality and shortfall minimization) before offering a formal proof that no non-trivial theory guarantees aggregativity. This is not intended as a criticism of any particular theory, but as a datum that must be taken into account in constructing a theory of fairness.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Steven J. Brams and Alan D. Taylor , Fair Division: From Cake-cutting to Dispute Resolution (Cambridge, 1996).

R. Aumann and M. Maschler , ‘Game Theoretic Analysis of a Bankruptcy Problem from the Talmud’, Journal of Economic Theory 36 (1985), pp. 195213.

W. Thomson , ‘Axiomatic and Game-theoretic Analysis of Bankruptcy and Taxation Problems: A Survey’, Mathematical Social Sciences 45 (2003), pp. 249–97.

Mark Reiff , ‘Proportionality, Winner-take-all and Distributive Justice’, Politics, Philosophy & Economics 8 (2009), pp. 542, at 11

Alexander Brown , ‘Principles of Stakes Fairness in Sport’, Politics, Philosophy & Economics 14 (2015), pp. 152–86.

John Broome , ‘Fairness’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 91 (1990), pp. 87101.

Brad Hooker , ‘Fairness’, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 8 (2005), pp. 329–52

Ben Saunders , ‘Fairness between Competing Claims’, Res Publica 16 (2010), pp. 4155

Peter Stone , ‘Lotteries, Justice and Probability’, Journal of Theoretical Politics 21 (2009), pp. 395409, at 398.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0953-8208
  • EISSN: 1741-6183
  • URL: /core/journals/utilitas
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 5
Total number of PDF views: 67 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 277 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 20th September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.