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Theory of Justice as Fairness

Theory of Justice as Fairness


Theory of Justice as Fairness

John Rawls’ theory of Justice aimed at establishing a reasoned basis for social justice in
accordance with the social contract approach, which perceives members of a society as being in
some form of contractual agreement. On this basis is what Rawls develops his concept of justice
as fairness. Accordingly, he argues that the key subject of justice is the basic societal structure
and that justice is the key virtue required in social institutions. Rawls’ conception of justice
consists of two major principles: the Principle of Liberty and the Principle of Equality. The latter
is further divided into the Difference Principle and the Principle of Fair Equality of Opportunity.
These principles require that every member of society is equally placed in a position to enjoy all
basic liberties that are consistent with similar liberties for the rest of society.
1) Summarize the concept of the “original position.”
One of the basic grounds for Rawls’ argument is that parties in the original position would chose
his Principles of Justice. This process involves the parties choosing the principles which they
intend to use in determining the primary societal structure in which they will live.
2) Summarize the concept of the “veil of ignorance.”
The choice made by the parties which regard to the principles to govern their societal structure is
made from behind a veil of ignorance. This veil of ignorance works towards depriving the parties
of information concerning their certain attributes, such as their conception of The Good, their
gender, social status, and ethnicity. As a result, the parties tend to choose the principles in an
impartial and rational manner.
3) Apply both concepts to an issue in today’s society that you feel is important

The concepts of original position and veil of ignorance can be applied to the Medicaid program
which was established with the aim of ensuring fairness in the provision of medical services
across the populations in the country.



Rawls, J. (1999) A Theory of Justice (Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA)

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