Author Topic: What do you think about John Rawls' "veil of ignorance"?  (Read 85 times)

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Offline Quetzalcoatl

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What do you think about John Rawls' "veil of ignorance"?
« on: March 23, 2020, 04:50:25 PM »
The veil of ignorance is a thought-experiment proposed by philosopher John Rawls to determine the principles of how a just society should be organized. It asks individuals to design the society they should live in if they are behind the "veil of ignorance", that is, they don't know if they will be rich or poor, disabled or not, they don't know their gender or their skin color, etc. What kind of society would they then design? Rawls believed that they would design a social liberal society.

I think the thought-experiment is very interesting. It is necessarily abstract, because we don't design society from scratch (and even if we did, the individuals designing it would have their various backgrounds), and we know who we are (gender, economic status, etc). But it is valuable nonetheless. I think most people find the concept intuitively fair when they first hear about it. If something like the golden rule is innate in human moral psychology, which from what I understand the data suggests that it is, then this isn't surprising. The veil of ignorance is essentially, I think, the golden rule applied to the organization of society.
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Online Tassie Dave

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Re: What do you think about John Rawls' "veil of ignorance"?
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2020, 05:05:10 PM »
I have thought about this in the past (Totally ignorant of Rawls) I read a lot of post apocalyptic sci-fi and I have thought about how small bands (10,000 or less) would recover.

My thought would be that the default position to start would be communism, then once production and life got back to some level of normality there would be a shift into a socialist society, then eventually (after several generations) a social liberal society. A pure capitalist society like we have today would be laughed at as an ideal at the entry level stage.

Online John Albert

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Re: What do you think about John Rawls' "veil of ignorance"?
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2020, 10:24:05 PM »
John Rawls' "veil of ignorance" is widely considered a major accomplishment in philosophical ethics. I believe it's a very useful exercise. 

Too bad most people can't be bothered to put themselves in the shoes of the less fortunate. Or else they just assume all their advantages are just rewards for their own personal merit, instead of acknowledging they might be the beneficiaries of a system of inequitable social privileges.