Rawls’ View of IgnoranceRawls theory of justice revolves around the adaptation of twofundamental principles of justice which would, in turn, guarantee a just andmorally acceptable society.
The first principle guarantees the right of eachperson to have the most extensive basic liberty compatible with the liberty ofothers. The second principle states that social and economic positions are to bea) to everyone’s advantage and b) open to all.A key problem to Rawls is to show how such principles would beuniversally adopted and here the work borders on general ethical issues.Heintroduces a theoretical “veil of ignorance” in which all the “players” in thesocial game would be placed in a situation which is called the “originalposition”. Having only a general knowledge of the facts of”life and society”,each player is to abide based on their moral obligation. By denying the playersany specific information about themselves it forces them to adopt a generalizedpoint of view that bears a strong resemblance to the moral point of view.
“Moral conclusions can be reached without abandoning the prudentialstandpoint of positing,a moral outlook merely by pursuing one’s own prudentialreasoning under certain procedural bargaining and knowledge constraints.”Rawls proposes that the most reasonable principles of justice for asociety are those that individuals would themselves agree to behind the “veil ofignorance”, in circumstances in which each is represented as a moral person,endowed with the basic moral powers. What this position supports is that whileeach person has different ends and goals, different backgrounds and talents,each ought to have a fair chance to develop his or her talents and to pursuethose goals – fair equality for opportunity. It is not a race or contest wherethe talented or gifted prevail, it should be complete cooperation among all sothat there may be reasonable life for all.
What the “veil of ignorance”brings out is that we can acceptutilitarianism as a public conception of justice only if we are prepared to letsomeone be subject to conditions we would not be prepared to subject ourselves.However, it is not the responsibility of my actions to ensure the fulfillment ofanother persons goals. These principles create an equal distribution of the”pie”, if you will, yet it is not attainable unless pursued or strived for.There is no room for idle observation, meaning, that while we all possess equalopportunity as we all are equally moral persons, the choice of what you wish topossess materially as well as intellectually is the discretion and capability ofthe individual.Why should we accept these principles as principles of justice?Primarily, these principles promote equality among all. Each individual has thesame basic liberties and opportunities. Each individual has a moral obligationto accept the existence of every other human being.
In doing so, all peoplebecome equal in their position and desires. We are equal in that each has thebasic powers of choice and on acting on a sense of justice. The responsibilityof procedure and growth relies on each and every individual his/her self.
Bydoing so we may create a level playing field. Is this a form of purecompetition? It would seem so. Competition in that what is desired must beachieved by one and desired by many perhaps.
A benefit of competitivecircumstance is the betterment of all parties involved as they must evolve inorder to surpass one another .Also,in fair equality for opportunity we may eliminate all forms ofdiscrimination and discretion of races, ethnic origin, social standards andreligious intolerance and beliefs. All of these characteristics are a componentof the individual person thus making him/her “individual”. Justice is onlysuccumbed when the liberties of an individual are affected because of anexternal opinion of these characteristics, and, in the oppression of thesecharacteristics upon another. They are nothing more than components of a people.
With the “veil of ignorance” we exempt our responsibility for caring forthat of which we do not know. If we don’t see something physically everydayshould it be an not be a concern or an aspect of our own life? If this were so,could it not be possible that some things could be ignored by all? The wordignorance scares me since I am ignorant of many things yet in growth I hope tobecome less ignorant through education. Is it only then that I understandcertain circumstances yet since I am not affected personally than I shouldcontinue to ignore. This, it would seem, would then rely on my moral truth orobligation, yet I will be the one to ultimately decide, this being theresponsibility of all. Can we place that much faith in the moral responsibilityof human kind. It sounds great theoretically yet in practice it almost appearsthat this would create more alienation than is present today.Would we becomethe exact opposite of what is desired, a selfish and careless society? Theremust be caution in placing so much responsibility on moral obligation.