The Case Of Inequality And John Rawls

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6. The Case of Inequality/John Rawls In Chapter 6, Sandel introduces to us an American philosopher by the name of John Rawls. According to Rawls, Sandel says, the way to think about justice “is to ask what principles we would agree to in an initial situation of inequality” (pg. 140). He calls this state of inequality a “veil of ignorance” which prevents people from knowing anything about their wealth, income, social status, racial identification, religious convictions, gender, ethnicity etc. In this state, Rawls says, the principles people would agree to would be just. Under these conditions, Rawls reasons, people would not choose utilitarianism- fearing they might be part of the minority. They would also not choose principles like libertarianism, feudalism. Rawls maintains that two principles will be chosen: basic liberties, and social and economic equality. A major argument that arises from this idea is whether consent to a contract “creates an obligation on its own, or is element of benefit or reliance also required” (pg. 144). Sandel says contracts realize two ideals: autonomy and reciprocity. Contracts represent autonomy; the “obligations [contracts] create carry weight because they are self imposed, and reciprocity; the “obligation to fulfill [a contract] arises from the obligation to repay others for the benefits they provide us” (pg. 144, 145). If put in a situation such as the veil of ignorance, most people would, Rawls suggests, adopt the “difference principle”:
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