The veil of ignorance

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The veil of ignorance

Since, according to Hume, we all can adopt this impartial perspective in imagination, it accounts for our agreement in moral judgments. Subsequently, philosophers posited similar perspectives for moral reasoning designed to yield impartial judgments once individuals abstract from their particular aims and interests and assess situations from an impartial point of view.

An important feature of the moral point of view is that it is designed to represent something essential to the activity of moral reasoning.

When joined with the common assumption that the totality of moral reasons is final and override non-moral reasons, the moral point of view might be regarded as the most fundamental perspective that we can adopt in practical reasoning about what we ought to do.

The original position is a hypothetical perspective that we can adopt in our moral reasoning about the most basic principles of social and political justice. The Original Position and Social Contract Doctrine Historically the idea of a social contract had a more limited role than Rawls assigns to it.

In Hobbes and Locke the social contract serves as an argument for the legitimacy of political authority. Hobbes argues that in a pre-social state of nature it would be rational for all to agree to authorize one person to exercise the absolute political power needed to enforce norms necessary for social cooperation.

By contrast, Locke argued against absolute monarchy by contending that no existing political constitution is legitimate or just unless it could be contracted into starting from a position of equal right within a relatively peaceful state of nature, and without violating any natural rights or duties.

For Rousseau and perhaps Kant too, the idea of a social contract played a different role: Why does Rawls represent principles of justice as originating in a kind of social contract?

The veil of ignorance

But whatever our natural or human rights and duties may be, they do not provide an adequate basis for ascertaining the rights and duties of justice that we owe one another as members of the same ongoing political society.

For this reason Rawls eschews the idea of a state of nature wherein pre-social but fully rational individuals agree to cooperative norms as in Hobbesian viewsor where pre-political persons with antecedent natural rights agree on the form of a political constitution as in Locke.

We are social beings in the sense that in the absence of society and social development we have but inchoate and unrealized capacities, including our capacities for rationality, morality, even language itself.

The veil of ignorance

This undermines the main point of the idea of a state of nature in many views, which is to distinguish the rights, claims, duties, powers and competencies we have prior to membership in society from those we acquire as members of society.

Not being members of some society is not an option for us. In so far as we are rational and reasonable beings at all, we have developed as members of a society, within its social framework and institutions. The original position is set forth largely as an alternative to the state of nature and is regarded by Rawls as the appropriate initial situation for a social contract.

These basic institutions include the political constitution, which specifies procedures for legislating and enforcing laws and the system of trials for adjudicating disputes; the bases of the economic system, including the norms of property, its transfer and distribution, contractual relations, etc.

It is the role of principles of justice to specify and assess the system of rules that constitute these basic institutions, and determine the fair distribution of rights, duties, opportunities, powers and positions of office to be realized within them. What makes these institutions and their arrangement the first subject for principles of social justice is that they are all necessary to social cooperation and have such profound influences on our circumstances, aims, characters, and future prospects.

No society could exist without certain rules of property, contract, and transfer of goods and resources, for they make economic production, trade, and consumption possible. Nor could a society long endure without some political mechanism for resolving disputes and making, revising, interpreting, and enforcing its economic and other cooperative norms; or without some form of the family, to reproduce, sustain, and nurture members of its future generations.

Even if they are ideologically necessary to sustain particular societies, many societies can and do exist without the support of religious institutions. Another reason Rawls regards the original position as the appropriate setting for a social contract is implicit in his stated aim in A Theory of Justice: Otherwise our conduct is coerced for reasons we cannot reasonably or rationally accept and we are not fundamentally free persons.

Starting from these assumptions, Rawls construes the moral point of view from which to decide moral principles of justice as a social contract in which representatives of free and equal persons are given the task of coming to an agreement on principles of justice that are to regulate their social and political relations in perpetuity.

How otherwise, Rawls contends, should we represent the justification of principles of justice for free and equal persons who have different conceptions of their good, as well as different religious, philosophical, and moral views? There is no commonly accepted moral or religious authority or doctrine to which they could appeal in order to discover principles of justice that all could agree to and accept.

Rawls contends that, since his aim is to discover a conception of justice appropriate for a democratic society that is justifiable to its free and equal citizens and which all can endorse and accept, the appropriate way to justify this conception is by imagining an agreement among free and equal moral persons themselves.

How is this social contract to be conceived? It is rather a hypothetical situation, a kind of thought experiment, that is designed to uncover the most reasonable principles of justice.

Rawls maintains in LHPP, cf. Hobbes and Locke thus posited a hypothetical state of nature in which there is no political authority, and where people are regarded as rational and for Locke also reasonable.

The presumption is that if a government could or would be agreed to by all rational persons subject to it in an appropriately described pre-political situation, then it is acceptable to rational persons generally, including you and me, and hence is legitimate and is the source of our political obligations.

Thus Hobbes argues that all rational persons in a state of nature would agree to authorize an absolute sovereign, while Locke comes to the opposite conclusion, contending that absolutism would be rejected in favor of constitutional monarchy.

Similarly, in Rousseau and Kant, the social contract is a way to reason about the General Will, or the laws that hypothetical moral agents would all agree to in order to promote the common good and realize the freedom and equality of citizens.

Rawls employs the idea of a hypothetical social contract for more general purposes than his predecessors. He aims to provide principles of justice that can be applied to determine not only the justice of political constitutions and the laws, but also the justice of social and economic arrangements in the distribution of income and wealth, as well as educational and work opportunities, powers and positions of office and responsibility."We just don’t know," he added.

"We’re behind the veil of ignorance.” News of Manafort's plea deal came days before the longtime GOP operative was due to appear in a Washington, D.C. The "veil of ignorance" is a method of determining the morality of political issues proposed in by American philosopher John Rawls in his "original position" political philosophy.

Mar 02,  · For example, if someone argues that the "veil of ignorance" cannot work as social or political theory because no one would know enough to make . For Rawls, "the veil of ignorance" is the manner by which decisions about resource allocation and political execution should be made. It is a tool to ensure that justice involves a sense of fairness.

Question 1 5 out of 5 points Rawls rejects utilitarianism because Answer Selected Answer: Correct Answer: it might permit an unfair distribution of burdens and benefits.

John Rawls And The Veil Of Ignorance – Hammering Shield

Question 2 5 out of 5 points The veil of ignorance proposes that Answer Selected Answer: Correct Answer: those in the original position are supposed to choose principles on the basis of 99%(79). Nov 09,  · (3) Here’s a simpler, layperson’s illustration of the “Veil of Ignorance”.

Boys ‘A’ and ‘B’ love cake. There is a piece of cake to be shared. ‘A’ was assigned to cut the cake into 2 pieces, to whatever proportion he wishes.

Kenneth Starr: ‘We’re behind the veil of ignorance’ - POLITICO