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Essay: The Importance of Rawls' Original Position in Theory of Justice

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  • Published: 1 February 2018*
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Paste your essay in here…In Philosopher John Rawls “A theory of Justice”, the principles that are formed derive from the original position which involves individuals participating in a thought experiment, upon entering they must slide behind ‘The Veil of Ignorance’ to forget any information regarding themselves including; religion, sex, political stances, ect. The system was thought to be the answer to creating a just society for every individual regardless of any differentiating factors, and to be seen as a just way to distribute wealth. I believe the original position is essential in constructing Rawls’ theory of justice because it creates an environment where individuals are able to create unbiased principles that would benefit every free and equal persons’, would allow no room for anyone to be able to manipulate the outcome to solely benefit them or individuals with the same goal.

An argument towards the necessity of the original position in constructing a theory of justice, comes from the idea that those of who work harder deserve more than those who do not work as hard. Based on Philosopher Robert Nozick's’ belief that historical principles are necessary when referring to certain moral situations and believes that with the original position and the veil of ignorance it causes those situations to be overlooked. So then the original position can be seen as unfair in those specific situations. Using Nozick's’ “Wilt Chamberlain” example the redistribution of money the basketball player made off of his talent and hardwork would be incredibly unfair because he deserves the money he made. If there is a gap in wealth between individuals who is to say that the means in attaining the money were unjust? Why should the hard

earned money just be given back to those who willingly paid for the event? If those who work hard to move up in the social class are interrupted by those who are worst off  it would be considered unjust. It would violate liberties, if we were to distribute the money back we would be interrupting the desires of the individual or in other words we would be sacrificing the earnings of one individual for the greater good (those who are worse off, the difference principle), which again can be seen as unjust. So the original position actually fails in considering needed background information to decide what principles should be apart of Rawls, Theory of Justice.

In response to the argument introduced one could counter it by stating the purpose of the original position, it is designed to bring an unbiased, impartial and fair point of view towards the principles needed to develop a better off society. Which then turns into Rawls’ principles of justice which will reflect the citizens wishes to protect their interests without making others worse off. The entire purpose of the principles specifically the difference principle is to protect society as a whole and to keep those who are in the lower class the chance to still be better off, regardless of life's situations. Those of who work hard for their earnings will still be stable in the case that they were to pay a tax, where their money would be redistributed to society. If individuals were to decide what principles a society should abide by without the use of the original position we can assume that the background information like; occupation, sex, morals, or religion could affect the outcome of principles. Those of who think that information should be considered heavily would continue to make decisions based off what would benefit them and not consider those not apart of their categories. Which would cause the society to focus their positions on benefiting themselves and those similar to them.  In Rawls, “A theory on Justice”, he states “An injustice is tolerable only when it is necessary to avoid an even greater injustice”, to say that redistributing wealth would be unjust depends on how you look at it, an example would be: if the money were to be used to feed those who cannot afford to eat, then the money would be better off used on those individuals because those opposed would be interrupting those individuals the right to life.

Considering of the original position is useful in the constructing of a theory of justice because of the veil of ignorance, it serves the purpose of a clean slate. Those of who would want benefits of life would have to want those benefits to apply to everyone because the original position is the outcome to the society and everyone involved. If it benefits everyone then it would in turn benefit that individual or limit the individual equally. The original position attempts to keep all unbiased opinions out and focuses its target on benefittng those in every class regardless of situation or morals situations one may come across. The benefits of the original position includes everyone's availability to a fair shot at politics, money, liberties and the accomplishments created by the individual would be entirely up to the individual's capability and drive.

The original position is a very important part in constructing the principles of a theory of justice because it’s end goal is to provide and sustain equal opportunities for those living a society. The original position and through the use of the veil of ignorance, attempts to break the cycle of the rich getting richer and poor getting poorer because it fails to provide equal amounts of opportunity to those who do not have advantages like ones would have. In the original position the individuals involved in the experiment are able to see themselves at the same level as everyone else wanting the best for themselves would be the equivalent of wanting the best for everyone. Its structured to where one would not be able to manipulate the outcome to serve as an advantage to themselves. If those who are disadvantaged are still better off regardless of situations than that society can be seen as a productive and a stable society still, which is better than society having to sacrifice those who are disadvantaged in order for the rest to be well off. Equal opportunities benefits everyone equally and we can provide those equal opportunities through the use of the original position.

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