the veil of ignorance

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Argumentatively discuss the strengths and weaknesses of John Rawls ‘Veil of ignorance’ method

John Rawls was a leader in moral and political philosophy, a political theorist who argues against utilitarianism and communism. Rawls works with the social contract theory of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and Kant and argues that the moral and political point of view is discovered via impartiality. Rawls explores this viewpoint by envisioning persons in a hypothetical situation, the ‘original position’. The original position is the fundamental element within John Rawls account of justice – ‘Justice as fairness”, and can be comparable to the state of nature in the social contract theory (Rawls, 1971). Of course for Rawls, this state of nature, is only a hypothetical place, as it is present only in the mind of the theorist and is characterized so as to lead to a particular abstraction of justice (Rawls, 1971). The ‘veil of ignorance’ is the predominant distinguishing feature in the hypothetical situation, which certifies impartiality of judgment and allows one to discover the nature of justice (STANFORD). John Rawls in Justice as fairness and Robert Nozick in Anarchy, State and Utopia present clear, subtly argued and contradictory conceptions of justice. The central claim for my argument is in favour of the Veil of ignorance in identifying principles of a just society. Therefore, my first premise is in support of John Rawls princples of justice, namely the difference principle, his justice as fairness theory. In response, an objection from Nozick contained within his concept of justice of entitlement, contrasts sharply with Rawls principles of justice.

“The hypothetical contractualist model, then, regards moral principles as the result of a bargaining process among a group of agents, subject to certain restrictions that are specified so as to guarantee that the chosen principles will meet the demands of second-order impartiality” (STANFORD). John Rawls, veil of ignorance

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