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Lecture 17

Philosophy 1020 Lecture 17: Nov 4th Rawls .docx

Course Code
PHIL 1020
Dennis Klimchuk

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Intro to Phil
November, 4th 2014
Political institutions lay down rules
Social contract theory: we understand that we have a social contract
-Actual consent is needed for political authority
John Rawls on Justice
Writing for people who he assumes live in a well behaved society
Given that we live in a well behaved society, in what way do we organize this
Rawls account on how principles of justice is justified
Three Starting Points:
1. ‘Justicle is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought.
It’s the most important thing, to which you organize the system
Also implies that its something that you cant really trade things against
2. “Society is a cooperative venture for mutual advantage, typically marked by
conflict as well as by an identity of intrests,”
Says society is something we get together and create due to mutual advantage
Society is not a thing in which one is born, its an arrangement, a cooporatve
If it’s not a mutual advantage, theres a problem
some people may be more advantagoues than others which leaves room for
There needs to be laws that doesn’t create conflict
3. The primary subject of social justice is the basic structure of society: the way in
which the major social institutions distribute fundamental rights and duties and
determine the division of advantage from social cooperation
Parliament but also things like the family and the market (institutions)
“Justice as fairness’: ‘conveys the idea that the principles of justice are agreed to in an
initial situation that is fair.
Doesn’t apply directly to the principles, but rather fairness describes the
circumstances under which a choice of principles
Justice in fairness doesn’t mean being fair
Those principles are just, that are chosen in circumstances that are fair
But it doesn’t tell us what justice is
Two Ideas: The original position, the veil of ignorance
The original position is a position in which you imagine yourself to be and when
we we leave that position
The veil of ignorance is something that hides from you, certain facts about
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