ALTCTV.1.docx - ‘CRITIQUING THE VEIL OF IGNORANCE’ The present work is to be a critique of Rawls’ Veil of Ignorance as well as putting forth an


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‘CRITIQUING THE VEIL OF IGNORANCE’ The present work is to be a critique of Rawls’ Veil of Ignorance as well as putting forth an alternative analytical tool when constructing societies known as the L’echelle Naturelle. My paper hopes to argue that inequalities in a society are not only essential in society contrary to Rawls’ Egalitarian ideology, but do in fact contain equality so long as the autonomy of the citizen is fully exercisable. I contend that institutions such as government and their extensions namely the law, have debilitated the exercisability of autonomy. The consequence of that is an artificial hierarchy monopolized by a minority rather than a natural hierarchy where every citizen is a means unto themselves. The phenomenon of a natural hierarchy that is made possible by unchained autonomy is what the L’echelle Naturelle hopes to expound upon in the forthcoming work. ‘And Putting Forth the L’echelle Naturelle’ By John Altmann
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1 How does one attain a society founded on equity? How does a society go about forming a conception of justice that has equal bearing on every citizen regardless of class, race, or ideology? Egalitarian philosopher John Rawls set about finding the answer to these very questions. The end result would be his most famous concept and one of the most notable contributions in the field of Philosophy; the veil of ignorance. To put it succinctly, the veil of ignorance is a type of social contract that sees citizens come together with the purpose of forming a new society and more significantly, principles of justice. Those who partake in the contract are ignorant of any knowledge pertaining to their person and are left only with information relevant in the construction of a society and its judicial ideology. When defining the veil Rawls states the following: the veil permits them to know ‘the general facts of human society’ such as political affairs and the principles of economic theory… whatever general facts affect the choice of the principles of justice’. It prevents them from knowing any particular facts about themselves. 1 I would like to state for the record that Rawls emphasized throughout his work that the veil is to be treated merely as an analytical tool and not as a literal act to be engaged in due to the scope and complexities of an average society. Such facts saw him apply the veil in his work in a hypothetical scenario with conditions perfect for the veil’s implementation. Despite this safeguard the veil has provoked much discussion in the realm of Academia. There are academics that support Rawls & the veil, arguing that it is a great tool when deliberating the formulation of a Constitution or fighting against political tyranny. There are other academics however, that have 1 John Rawls, A Theory of Justice Cambridge, (Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1972), 137 .
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2 raised contentions against Rawls & the veil stating that it is a refutation of individual liberty and
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  • Winter '13
  • PatrickMichaelWalsh

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