Probability, Distributive Justice, and the Promise of Social Insurance
Access StatusFull text of the requested work is not available in DASH at this time ("dark deposit"). For more information on dark deposits, see our FAQ.
Friedman, Rachel Zabarkes
MetadataShow full item record
CitationFriedman, Rachel Zabarkes. 2017. Probability, Distributive Justice, and the Promise of Social Insurance. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractSocial insurance is the defining policy tool of the modern welfare state, but political theorists have not paid sustained attention to its development or basic character. This dissertation traces the history of social insurance and argues that it is best understood as an evolving distributive regime. Beginning with the origins of mathematical probability theory, I identify a novel account of distributive justice that guided early thinking about life insurance and went on to inspire the first social insurance proposals in 18th-century England and France. I then explain how changes in the understanding of probability encouraged a more collective account of risk and thereby helped support the welfare programs enacted in Western Europe toward the end of the 19th century. Finally, I show how 20th-century social and economic thought undermined the collectivist account of risk from opposing perspectives, and in so doing called the benefits of social insurance into question in ways that have reverberated in both political theory and practice since. Ultimately, my account shows that the prominence and longevity of the insurance principle in modern liberal politics have stemmed from its ability to appeal to competing distributive claims, an appeal that reflects the dualistic character of mathematical probability itself. This fact is both a source of internal tension and a virtue when understood in the proper perspective.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41140203
- FAS Theses and Dissertations