What was John Rawls' version of the social contract theory?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Rawls' version of the social contract involved individuals understanding that justice is synonymous with fairness.  In this light, individuals enter into a social and political arrangement where they understand that the interests of justice are best served when there is a sense of fairness that underscores the configuration of both realities.  Such a design ensures that even those at the bottom rungs of society would be provided with opportunities to improve their own condition.  This understanding of the social contract in Rawls' work through the embrace of the veil of ignorance.  This mechanism ensures that if individuals had no idea about where they were to fall into a social order, they would make decisions that guaranteed those at the bottom would have some chance at success.  Given this, there would be a consideration that while individuals have freedom to do whatever they wish to improve their own lives, the social contract in which Rawls places faith in designing his conception of justice is one where individuals see that those at the bottom of society have some level of legitimate and genuine opportunity for happiness and success.

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