Functional Justice: Productivity and Well-Being Goals Define Fairness
58 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2010 Last revised: 3 Sep 2013
Date Written: August 11, 2010
Theories of distributive justice have identified at least three principles on which allocations can be based – equity, equality, and need. Morton Deutsch linked individual use of these principles to underlying goals, but the importance of goals in defining just distributions is not widely appreciated in psychology, political science, or by policy makers. Examining the literature on gender, ideology, and culture reveals a convergent pattern where goal disposition may mediate observed differences in what allocations are considered fair. Consistent with evolutionary and published theoretical models, the goal of increasing productivity leads to the use of the equity principle while the goal of increasing well-being leads to the use of the equality and/or need principles. Reviewing experimental justice research yields a convergent finding and it is hypothesized that many experimental manipulations may actually be manipulating goal activation. Implications for public policy are discussed, as policy makers increasingly begin to question reliance on measures of national productivity, supplementing them with measures of national well-being.
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