Define the role "the veil of ignorance" plays in Rawls' theory. According to Rawls theory "the veil of ignorance" is an imaginative device for considering what counts as just and fair in a state...
Define the role "the veil of ignorance" plays in Rawls' theory. According to Rawls theory "the veil of ignorance" is an imaginative device for considering what counts as just and fair in a state of society. When a society is formed and no one knows anything about each other's position or background such as ethnic group, race, or gender, then all are ignorant. Then we talk about "the veil of ignorance." If people do not have a clue about what is going on around them and among them, then they are ignorant. They have no knowledge, no information on each other; therefore, they would have to agree on rules which are fair and just without biases an special interests.
In A Theory of Justice, Rawls devises a novel thought experiment. He asks us to imagine that we are tasked with coming up with the rules for the distribution and allocation of goods within a hypothetical society. We are to carry out this task behind a veil of ignorance. This means that we put aside such factors as race, gender, and social class and concentrate on which kind of society would best maximize liberty. It also means that we don't concern ourselves with what's best for us, but for society as a whole.
Rawls believes that by doing this we will arrive at the kind of liberal state and society that he strongly endorses. If we operate behind a veil of ignorance when determining the allocation of resources in society, then we'll inevitably choose a system which would be as just and fair as possible. Because we're behind a veil of ignorance, we don't know where we'd be in this hypothetical society; we could be fantastically rich or dirt poor; we could be a member of the dominant class or part of the exploited class; we could be racially privileged or subject to bigotry and repression. We just don't know. So it's better to be on the safe side and devise a system based on maximizing equality, fairness, and justice.
For Rawls, "the veil of ignorance" is the manner by which decisions about resource allocation and political execution should be made. It is a tool to ensure that justice involves a sense of fairness. The veil itself is a concealment tool that prevents individuals from fully understanding where they would fall in a social setting. The term "ignorant" might be too harsh. Individuals are not fully clear on where they would fall because the veil precludes them from absolutely knowing their placement. In this light, individuals would choose to protect those on the lowest rung because that could be where they would fall. It is because of this that the veil of ignorance allows for a more pure sense of decision making because it is the mechanism that allows for individual and collective interests to converge.