Discussion Paper of the Institute for Organisational Economics 1/2011

Die dunkle Seite der Gerechtigkeit 
Alexander Dilger
January 2011



The Dark Side of Justice

The focus of this paper is on subjective ideas of justice, not justice in itself, because only the former are empirically ascertainable as well as effective in human actions. However, the results of these ideas do not have to be primarily positive. First, ideas of justice might imperil economic efficiency such that all or some affected persons are worse off than necessary. Second, if there is a conflict of ideas, these different ideas of justice may reciprocally prevent the implementation of each other. Third, even an idea of justice shared by all participants might not only result in a material deterioration but the kind of justice aimed for might be obtained to a lesser degree than without this idea. This is not an argument against ideas of justice altogether, yet it is an argument for their careful examination and measured use without claims of absoluteness.