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Natural Justice$
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Ken Binmore

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195178111

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195178111.001.0001

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The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule

(p.129) Chapter 9 The Golden Rule
Natural Justice

Ken Binmore (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter reviews the relevant anthropology, starting with the apparent universality of the golden rule — do as you would be done by — in hunter-gatherer societies. It points out that all pure foraging societies have two properties: they do not tolerate bosses, and they share very fairly. A putative explanation of the first property is offered that appeals to the game theory discipline of mechanism design. The second property is explained as an evolutionary consequence of the implicit insurance contracts that are common in animals as ahedge against hunger and starvation. If so, then we have an argument in support of the contention that Rawls' original position captures the deep structure of fairness norms wired into our brains. The analogy with Chomsky's deep structure of language is close.

Keywords:   golden rule, hunter-gatherers, mechanism design, implicit insurance contracts

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