veil of ignorance

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“Argumentatively discuss the strengths and weaknesses of John Rawls’ ‘Veil of Ignorance’ method”

In John Rawls' A Theory of Justice, he argues that morally, society should be constructed politically as if we were all behind a veil of ignorance; that is, the rules and precepts of society should be constructed as if we had no prior knowledge of our future wealth, talents, and social status, and could be placed in any other person's societal position (Velasquez, 2008). Through this, Rawls believes that people will create a system of “justice as fairness” because their lack of knowledge regarding who they are will prevent them from arranging a society that would benefit those in their position at the expense of others. Rawls’ has designed his theory of the original position as a hypothetical social contract (Freeman, 2012). As we do not live in a well-ordered society that the hypothetical contract is based on, Rawls’ theory and position is flawed and it is an implausible conception of justice. Rawls’ theory of justice and the veil of ignorance cannot be effectively and practically executed in the modern society for several political, economical and sociological variables. Rawls’ defends that the veil of ignorance allows for equality within society, however without knowing the prior characteristics, talents and socioeconomic status of the people at cost, how can the distribution of benefits and burdens be equal and just to all parties? A major weakness of the veil of ignorance is that it does not account for merit or talent, resulting in unfairness and unjustness between parties. Another argument against Rawls’ principles of justice and the veil of ignorance is the opposition to utilitarianism. Rawls’ principles of justice call for the equal distribution of services, property and benefits. In this case, the maximum level of wellbeing in society can be jeopardized. Why prohibit a society from producing as much good as it can? Isn’t it better to have



References: Daniels, N. (1975). Reading Rawls: critical studies on Rawls ' A theory of justice. New York: Basic Books. Driver, Julia. (2009) The History of Utilitarianism, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Retrieved from: http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2009/entries/utilitarianism-history/>. Freeman, Samuel, (2012) Original Position, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from: http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2012/entries/original-position/>. Kukathas, C., & Pettit, P. (1990). Rawls: a theory of justice and its critics. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. Velasquez, M. G. (2008). Social Philosophy. Philosophy: a text with readings (10th ed., pp. 566 583). Australia: Thomson/Wadsworth.

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