A Unified Theory of Justice: The Integration of Fairness into Efficiency

Washington Law Review, June 1998

Posted: 1 May 1998

See all articles by Michael I. Swygert

Michael I. Swygert

Stetson University - College of Law

Katherine Earle Yanes

Law Clerk to Chief Justice Elizabeth Kovachevich; Stetson University - College of Law

Abstract

An idea generally shared by both economists and philosophers is that a legal rule may either achieve distributive fairness or bring about an efficient outcome, but not both. In this Article, the authors argue that justice requires that legal rules consider both fairness and efficiency. The Article discusses the Coase Theorem, as a tool for determining the most efficient allocation of rights and duties, and the ideas of John Rawls for deriving a fair social contract. The authors then combine aspects of these two hypothetical consensus models into a unified theory of justice that considers the question of what agreements parties would enter into if they could bargain costlessly ex ante without knowledge of which side of the bargain or situation they would ultimately obtain. The answers to this question, the authors contend, will form the basis for legal rules that give weight not only to fairness, but also to efficiency, and thereby will achieve just results.

Suggested Citation

Swygert, Michael I. and Earle Yanes, Katherine, A Unified Theory of Justice: The Integration of Fairness into Efficiency. Washington Law Review, June 1998. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=81948

Michael I. Swygert (Contact Author)

Stetson University - College of Law ( email )

1401 61st St. South
St. Petersburg, FL 33707
United States
813-562-7800 (Phone)
813-347-3738 (Fax)

Katherine Earle Yanes

Law Clerk to Chief Justice Elizabeth Kovachevich

U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Florida
Tampa, FL
United States

Stetson University - College of Law

1401 61st St. South
St. Petersburg, FL 33707
United States
813-572-6329 (Phone)
Not available (Fax)

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