Rawlsian Politics: Voting Using the Veil of Ignorance

John Rawls is one of the most influential contemporary philosophers. His work has been used all over the place and proved to be helpful in many ways. Today, I want to discuss the practice of voting using some ideas from Rawls.

In A Theory of Justice, Rawls posits what he calls “the original position.” In this position, we do not know who we are or what place we have in society. Thinking using this scheme is called being behind “the veil of ignorance.”

If we use the veil of ignorance when voting, we think about policies and their effects by not knowing who we are or what place we have in society. You can imagine that you are an immigrant, a poor white person, a person with disabilities–or any number of things. The point is: You do not know who you are in society.

When you vote using the veil of ignorance, I think you will see that you will favor policies that benefit marginalized people simply because you do not know if you are one of them.

Think about using the veil of ignorance when voting and let me know the conclusions you come to!


Author: Jennifer Lawson

Philosopher. That is all.

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