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Regarding Rawls 'original Position' And 'veil Of Ignorance' As Well As Critiques Of His Theory From Iris Marion Young

1944 words - 8 pages

Q.2How does Rawls use ‘the original position’ and ‘the veil of ignorance’ to establish a conception of social justice? Your answer should define these terms and specify how Rawls characterizes them. You might also make reference to Rawls’ use of a contractarian methodology and the hypothetical contract.While society is a form of social cooperation which exists for the ‘mutual benefit of all its members;’ there is also a conflict of interest, as what is produced cooperatively can be distributed in various ways.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.’Using a Contractarian methodology, 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.’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 elaborates that the original position is not a certain state of affairs within history, nor a condition of nature but rather a completely hypothetical situation individuals are placed in order to lead to a certain conception of justice. In this sense, the original position may be entered into at any time and is a crucial element to ensure that the position individuals choose their principles of justice from would not be distorted.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 (e.g. gender, race, natural abilities) or a conception of good is. As Mullah and Swift elucidates;‘in denying people in the original position knowledge of their beliefs about what makes a life worthy or valuable and attributing to them rather a ‘highest order interest’ of this kind, Rawls is modeling 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.’Additionally Rawls suggests that it is only through the veil of ignorance...

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