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The author distinguishes between fundamental justice and incremental justice and argues that the Rawlsian, ex ante, concept of justice is the only concept of justice relevant to the design and evaluation of institutions. Unlike incremental justice for which a concensus as to what constitutes justice is generally not possible the conditions that satisfy the Rawlsian concept of justice are derived from the assumptions of rationality and aversion to large risks, and the postulate of fairness. A concensus occurs not fortuitously but inevitably. The paper develops eight principles of institutional design that contribute towards a just society and that follow logically from these assumptions and postulates. The paper argues that these principles are actually needed for social welfare maximization, so that justice is consistent with efficiency. The paper uses examples about the concept of exploitation, crime and punishment, labour market and social security, to illustrate how these principles can be applied.


CPPS Working Paper Series No.36 (8/96)

Recommended Citation

Ho, L. S. (1996). Institutional foundations for a just society (CPPS Working Paper Series No.36). Retrieved from Lingnan University website: