Justice and the Structure of Reciprocity: How Empirical Results Can Inform Normative Theory

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Woodward, James
preprint description
Over the past two decades a rich empirical literature has developed, reflecting work in economics, psychology, neurobiology, evolutionary biology and other disciplines, concerning human cooperation, and the distribution of the benefits and burdens that it generates. These issues are also a focus of a great deal of normative theorizing, much of it falling within the subject matter of theories of justice. It is a natural thought that the empirical literature must have some bearing on the normative theories, but it is no easy matter to spell out what these connections might be. This paper explores this question, by focusing on empirical literature relevant to one particular notion that plays a role in many normative theories of justice —the notion of reciprocity