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Discuss And Analyze Rawls 'veil Of Ignorance'.

1542 words - 6 pages

This essay will discuss the validity of reasoning behind a 'veil of ignorance' when considering principles of justice. To reach a satisfactory conclusion requires questioning its applicability to society and if it is beneficial using this reasoning. The first step is to define Rawls' ideal and why he thinks it a valid theory. The essay will then consider the problems with using the veil to create a just society . It will finish with a conclusion on the strength of using this theory in reality.Offering his theory as an alternative to utilitarianism, the fundamental basis of Rawls' philosophy centred on the principle of autonomy and freedom of the individual. He believed that 'each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override.' Rawls follows the thought concept of rational and equal individuals coming together to format a hypothetical contract, a set of principles defining all associations between individuals. The principles of justice would then be used to regulate all basic institutions which govern society. Rawls believed that these principles of justice equating with fairness would 'determine …the proper distribution of the benefits and burdens of social cooperation'. (Rawls, 1971) In order to create a situation where rational and free people are able to make a rational decision under just conditions, Rawls introduces the 'The Original Position.' He describes the original position as 'a hypothetical status quo in which fundamental agreements would be fair.' (Rawls, 1971) Furthermore, Rawls places all individuals behind a 'Veil of Ignorance.' While all deciding parties establishing the guidelines to justice have an equal voice and are able to choose freely, all must approach the task with no knowledge of themselves regarding any self characteristic such as gender, race etc. or a conception of what good is. As Mullah and3Swift put it, 'in denying people in the original position knowledge of their beliefsabout what makes a life worthy or valuable and attributing to them rather a 'highest order interest' of this kind, Rawls is modelling the substantive moral claim that, when thinking about justice, which matters is people's freedom to make their own choices and to change their minds, not whatever it is that they choose.' (Mullah & Swift, 1992) Additionally Rawls suggests that it is only through the veil of ignorance that rational just principles may be chosen. He saw that if 'one excludes the knowledge of contingencies that set men at odds and allows them to be guided by their prejudices' there would be little discord since 'it should be impossible to tailor principles to circumstances of ones' own case.' (Rawls, 1971) Moreover, Rawls argued that as each individual would put their own interest at heart, grossly unjust principles would not be created. For instance, without knowledge of ones' own status in society, slavery would not be permissible as each party would not...

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