Whether the system used in the short story is "fair" by Rawls's standard or by the "cut-first/choose-last" standard or by any other standard. in "The Lottery"

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If we take Rawls' veil of ignorance, I cannot see how the system put forth in Jackson's story could be seen as just or fair.  If we place the veil of ignorance on any individual, no one would want to be Tessie. Everyone would choose to be anyone else other then Tessie.  Given this, the tradition is not fair and cannot be considered just.  At the same time, if we used the idea of individual rights, the system is once again not fair.  Tessie's right to exist is trampled over by the majority's right to exercise their own subjectivity.  Rawls' is quite passionate about how the rights of the individual cannot come at the cost of the individual and that ‘‘each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive scheme of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar scheme of liberties for others.’’  In this light, Tessie's treatment cannot be morally compatible with any other system.  At the same time, I think that the entire village tradition would be dismissed by a Rawls approach because of the fact that if it's not Tessie, it would be someone else.  If any individual is subjected to what is there,  Rawls would speak out based on what is presented in his work.