Rawls' Difference Principle

Topics: Logic, Poverty, A Theory of Justice Pages: 4 (1772 words) Published: June 10, 2012
The difference principle is a very fair and effective way to ensure justice in society. However, in some cases and when taken to certain extremes, it does not hold up as a principle of justice. This essay will first define important terms like difference principle, original position and veil of ignorance. The example of Sidney Crosby will be examined to see how the difference principle holds up against some reasonable and logical arguments. Then the difference principle will be exposed to some hypothetical arguments and critiques. The difference principle is the assertion that inequality can only be tolerated if the worst off person in society benefits from that inequality. This is referring to inequality of wealth or goods that develops in all societies. There are a couple of justifications for this claim. The first of which involves what Rawls calls original position and the veil of ignorance. The original position is the hypothetical position that all people in the society are born into. There is no inequality of anything at the original position. Ones parents aren’t determined, ones place of birth is not known, and ones race, intelligence and natural physical ability are all undetermined. In this original position, one sits behind the veil of ignorance that, when lifted, will show what person one actually is. Behind the veil of ignorance, absolutely nothing is known about oneself. Even attributes like how dedicated a person is, how easy-going and how ethical are all a mystery when in the original position. The difference principle depends upon the understanding and acceptance that people are equally entitled to everything a society has to offer. Rawls’ argument is that it is completely unfair for one person to prosper while another lies in poverty simply because the former was born to rich parents and the latter was born with a mental disability. The two individuals had absolutely no say over what situation they would be born into so why is...
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