The cut point for a life worth living (pt. 1)

In the original position, Rawls claims that the difference principle will be chosen as the guiding doctrine for distributive justice. This relies heavily on the veil of ignorance. In other words, the parties don’t know the distribution of primary goods under different principles of justice.

For the purposes of this post, assume that a distribution of primary goods could be mapped for the world under every principle of justice. Such a distribution would list all the people in the society and the amount of primary goods they would receive under the principle of justice being considered. The parties would know with what probability that would have a certain amount of primary goods. Armed with this knowledge, they would simply maximize and choose the principle that delivered the highest average amount of primary goods.

In coming posts, I am going to argue that no matter how Rawls depicts the initial choice situation, the difference principle will not result. For now though, I just want to take the first step and show that the parties cannot know the full distribution of primary goods that they face. Otherwise, their would be no reason for them not to maximize and thus pick the principle of maximizing the average.


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