Handout – Human Rights / Ethics
How do we decide what rights are appropriate?
How can we enforce human rights and international law?
John Rawls’ Veil of Ignorance: A thought experiment to determine the rational way to treat
others. The “veil of ignorance” prevents us from knowing the distribution of wealth / class /
resources /ethnicity / education / interests of others and of ourselves. From this “original
position”, how do you decide which principles of justice to use?
Rawls says we will choose a) to guarantee the equal rights & liberties necessary for equal
citizens to pursue their own interests and b) to ensure fair educational and employment
opportunities to ensure that everyone can compete for power & has the minimum means to pursue
Regime: A set of implicit or explicit rules, norms or decision-making procedures around which
actors’ expectations converge in a given issue area. The major treaties of the human rights regime are
the Universal Declarat