veil of ignorance

Topics: John Rawls, Social contract, Political philosophy Pages: 4 (1376 words) Published: May 1, 2014
Those people who are ignorant of themselves are able to design a society with equalities in wealth, power and liberty amongst its members (Rawls, 1971; Freeman, 2012). This is the general claim made by john Rawls (1971) in his ‘veil of ignorance’ method within the idea of ‘justice as fairness’. The veil has two factors that contribute to its’ success. Firstly, that a party/person has no knowledge of themselves including (but not limited to) class, wealth, race, gender, age and intelligence. Second, that knowledge is enough so you are able to form a standard of justice in which free and rational people accept a position of equality to defend the association. A criticism to Rawls’ theory on the veil of ignorance is it is not a universal theory. It only applies to those who are capable to rational thoughts, which do not include children, those with special needs and non-humans. In reply to the criticism, the second contribution to the Rawls theory is the parties’ restricted knowledge (class, intelligence, age, race etc.) means all people would be classes as a rational being (Rawls, 1971).

The concept of justice presented by Rawls in 1971 within the original position was designed to reflect those social contract theories of Locke, Kant and Rousseau with the focus on the idea of the principles of justice as the basic structure for society. He assumes that free and rational people would accept a fairness agreement if all parties were initially found as equal (Freeman, 2012; Rawls, 1971). This ‘justice as fairness’ sees each person to decide what constitutes their good just a party is to decide what they will find to be just and unjust, all through rational reflection. Once the conception of justice is formed the constitutional and legislative laws are to be chosen. Essentially it is the formation of a just society by rational people through rational thinking. The two principals towards justice are firstly: everyone is entitled to equal rights and basic liberty,...
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