The tyranny puzzle in social preferences: an empirical investigation
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionSocial Choice and Welfare 2015 10.1007/s00355-015-0880-9
When forming their preferences about the distribution of income, rational people may be caught between two opposite forms of “tyranny.” Giving absolute priority to the worst-off imposes a sort of tyranny on the rest of the population, but giving less than absolute priority imposes a reverse form of tyranny where the worstoff may be sacrificed for the sake of small benefits to many well-off individuals. We formally show that this intriguing dilemma is more severe than previously recognised, and we examine howpeople negotiate such conflicts with a questionnaire-experimental study.Our study shows that both tyrannies are rejected by amajority of the participants, which makes it problematic for them to define consistent distributive preferences on the distribution.
-This is the author's version of the article: "The tyranny puzzle in social preferences: an empirical investigation", Social Choice and Welfare 2015.