Question

How does Rawls envision the ideal social contract? (HINT: think about the ‘original position’ and the...

How does Rawls envision the ideal social contract? (HINT: think about the ‘original position’ and the ‘veil of ignorance’.)

2. What is one advantage of Rawls' method (HINT: has something to do with how fair the rules would be.)

and

3. What is one disadvantage to appealing to an ideal social contract as the basis of morality? (HINT: it's an 'epistemic' problem'.)

Homework Answers

Answer #1

For Rawls' his understanding culminates from a Kantian philosophy. For Rawls, as for Kant, persons have the capacity to reason from a universal point of view, which in turn means that they have the particular moral capacity of judging principles from an impartial standpoint. This means that he inherently has a belief in people and their capacities. Rawls essentially did believe that people innately do have the capacity to be just and look for logic, thereby coming to rational decision making. He evokes this point of view and outlook by imagining persons in a hypothetical situation, the Original Position, which is characterized by the epistemological limitation of the Veil of Ignorance. Rawls’ original position is his highly abstracted version of the State of Nature. It is the position from which we can discover the nature of justice and what it requires of us as individual persons and of the social institutions through which we will live together cooperatively. In the original position, behind the veil of ignorance, one is denied any particular knowledge of one’s circumstances, such as one’s gender, race, particular talents or disabilities, one’s age, social status, one’s particular conception of what makes for a good life, or the particular state of the society in which one lives. Persons are also assumed to be rational and disinterested in one another’s well-being. These are the conditions under which, Rawls argues, one can choose principles for a just society which are themselves chosen from initial conditions that are inherently fair.

Some of the key advantages of social contract theory are that it provides for satisfaction for individual interests without making others worse off. It tends to justify basic moral rules.

The disadvantages are that there are no accountability, i.e. a person is not necessarily required to obey rules per se. People may disobey rules and even break them having nothing to lose. This makes a major proble of morality as such. Ethically this is incorrect and unjust in very many ways.

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