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Justice, rawls, and the veil of ignorance

Rawls on justice

In his 1971 book, Theory of Justice, John Rawls constructed a thought experiment to find the basic principles of distributive justice. Rawls begins with the central problem of distributive justice. The goods, harms, and risks that accompany social cooperation must be fairly and justly distributed. Three methods of distribution present themselves as leading candidates: equality, merit, and need.

  • Equality : the benefits, harms, and risks of social cooperation are distributed equally among members of the social group.
  • Merit : the greatest share goes to those who deserve it. Merit can be defined in terms of knowledge, skill, productivity or even moral virtue.
  • Need : the greatest share goes to those who have the greatest need.
  • Beauchamp and Bowie add distribution according to rights, effort, and societal contribution. Beauchamp and Bowie, Ethical Theory and Business, 3rd Edition , p. 44.

Rawls then constructs a thought experiment designed to solve this problem of distribution. Imagine a situation where a group of rationally self-interested individuals choose principles of distribution under a veil of ignorance. (This means that individuals will be making this choice unaware of their own special circumstances, for example, whether they will be rich or poor, born in a wealthy nation or in a developing country, endowed with natural talents or handicapped in some way, etc.)

  1. Rational self-interest leads us to acquire as many primary goods as possible. These include (a) rights and liberties, (b) opportunities and powers, and (c) income and wealth.
  2. Under the veil of ignorance, we pretend to know nothing of our situation. As Rawls puts it, under the veil of ignorance, “no one knows his place in society, his class position or social status, nor does any one know his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities, his intelligence, strength and the like.” (J. Rawls (1971). A Theory of Justice . Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, p. 12)

The veil of ignorance channels rational self-interest toward an impartial and fair system of distribution. Without the veil of ignorance, those who are rich would gravitate toward a scheme of distribution that maintained and even enhanced their wealth. Those who were poor would opt for a scheme that redistributed the wealth of others to themselves. The scheme could also be shifted towards one’s natural talents: if one were strong, one would choose a system of distribution biased toward strength; if one were intelligent, one would choose a system of distribution that rewarded intelligence; if one were male, one would choose a system that favored men. Rational self interest without the veil of ignorance would bias the principles of justice chosen. But the veil of ignorance pushes rational self-interest toward impartiality because the rationally self-interested individual must choose to protect all possibilities, not knowing in advance which one will apply.

With this in mind, Rawls’ basic position can be summarized in the following manner:

Questions & Answers

what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
learn
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
learn
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
Damian
yes that's correct
Professor
I think
Professor
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
Rafiq
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
Damian
How we are making nano material?
LITNING Reply
what is a peer
LITNING Reply
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
LITNING Reply
What is STMs full form?
LITNING
scanning tunneling microscope
Sahil
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Santosh
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
Mahi
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
Rafiq
if virus is killing to make ARTIFICIAL DNA OF GRAPHENE FOR KILLED THE VIRUS .THIS IS OUR ASSUMPTION
Anam
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Anam
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
Hafiz
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
Bob
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
brayan
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Damian
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
Renato
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
?
Kyle
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
Adin
why?
Adin
what school?
Kyle
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
Joe
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
research.net
kanaga
sciencedirect big data base
Ernesto
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Collection of ethics modules for civis. OpenStax CNX. Feb 26, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11493/1.1
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