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HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Jesse Isidor Straus Professor of Business Administration, HBS


In A Theory of Justice, John Rawls employed the ‘veil of Ignorance’ as a moral reasoning device designed to promote impartial thinking. By imagining the choices of decision-makers who are blind to biasing information, one might see more clearly the organizing principles of a just society. In our experimental research we’ve applied veil-of-ignorance reasoning to more specific moral dilemmas. Here, we summarize our main findings and consider their implications. First, we argue that our findings provide further support for consequentialist approaches to ethics. Second, and more importantly, we argue that veil-of-ignorance reasoning may be a useful and underappreciated tool for thinking about real-world moral problems. We highlight the ability of VOI reasoning to foster more impartial decision-making and promote the greater good across a variety of domains, from the ethics of self-driving cars to healthcare to charitable giving.


Greene, Joshua D., Karen Huang, and Max Bazerman. "Redirecting Rawlsian Reasoning Toward the Greater Good." The Oxford Handbook of Moral Psychology. Ed. Manuel Vargas, and John M. Doris. Oxford University Press, 2022, 246-261.