• Jasmine
    Hi everyone.

    I'm relatively new here and as a previous psychology student, I am struggling to grasp the philosophical way of thinking, its not what I am used to and I am trying to change that.

    I wanted to propose a scenario and see what people would choose and why, to try and open up the way I am thinking, and hopefully help with my philosophy studies going forward.

    Last week we learnt about the original position by John Rawls. The original position is a hypothetical thought experiment with the aim to discover the principles that should structure a society of free, equal and moral people. Rawls states that his Principles of Justice would be chosen by parties in the original position. In the original position, you are asked to consider which principles you would select for the basic structure of society, but you must select as if you had no knowledge ahead of time what position you would end up having in that society. This choice is made from behind a veil of ignorance, which prevents you from knowing your ethnicity, social status, gender and, crucially, your individual idea of how to lead a good life. Ideally, this would force participants to select principles impartially and rationally.

    Scenario: You are bargaining for a client in an Original Position. You have to come
    up with a principle of distributive justice that your client will be able to satisfactorily
    live under. You know nothing of your client’s talents, abilities, gender, religious views,
    sexual orientation, etc – except that she or he is not disabled. Fortunately, the other
    people in your group also have the same knowledge. You will have to think about how you will justify your choice to your client when you find out who he or she is.

    Note: A prior original position has already agreed that basic liberties – freedoms of conscience,
    religion, expression, and association, and the rights to participate in public and
    political life, as well as the liberties associated with the psychological and physical
    integrity of the person – must be guaranteed to all, so you need not worry about
    violations of people’s basic rights and liberty.

    These are your options (Remembering that these principles will govern your client’s entire life, and he/she will not be able to escape from the setting in which they apply)

    1. Laissez Faire: Markets will operate without government intervention, except
    to protect private property (including intellectual property through patenting
    and copyrighting legislation) and to place modest limits on the emergence of
    oligopolistic and monopolistic markets.

    2. Equality of Resources: People will have roughly equal resources available to
    them over their full lives.

    3. Sufficiency: Everyone will have a basic needs safety net guaranteed. Above that
    level, markets will determine rewards, unless a democratically elected
    legislature chooses to constrain them. (If you select this principle, be prepared
    to explain what counts as basic need, and why).

    4. Maximin: Inequalities of resources will be arranged so that the least
    advantaged will better off than they would be under any other arrangement.

    5. Equality of Welfare: Resources will be distributed so that everyone ends up
    more or less equally happy.

    6. You may, if you choose, formulate a compromise between these principles, or
    formulate an entirely different principle. If so, it must be reasonably precise,
    and you must be prepared to defend it

    which of the principles would you choose for your client, and why would you choose it?

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