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Chapter 6
1. What is the veil of ignorance, according to Rawls? What is the purpose of it?
The veil of ignorance according to Rawls is the the veil that temporarily prevents us
from knowing anything about who in particular we are. It is our ignorance about our class or
gender, our race or ethnicity, our political opinions or religious convictions. It is when we donâ??t
know our advantages and disadvantages, whether we are healthy or frail, highly educated or a
high-school dropout, and if born to supportive family or a broken one.
The purpose of it is to deliver the idea that how everyone will agree to choose justice and
only justice for everyone.
2. Why does Rawls believe it is necessary if we are trying to figure out what justice in society is?
Rawls believes that the veil of ignorance is necessary if we are trying to figure out what justice in
society is because it will allow us to see clearly what justice has to achieve for everyone. If we
are covered by this veil, we will not be blocked by our situations or what we already have in life.
We will have a better look, a better understanding, and a better idea of justice and what it should
be.
3. What is Rawls idea of a social contract? A hypothetical agreement in an original position of
equality.
Rawls idea of a social contact is that it is the hypothetical agreement in an original position of
equality. He argues that the way to think about justice is to ask what principles we would agree
to in an initial situation of equality. He brings the veil of ignorance to show us that all of us will
agree on justice if we are to think about it without thinking about our social and economic
differences.
4. Why does Rawls want you to be self-interested? What does this add to the â??original position?â?
Indeed this adds everything to the original position. If we are self-interested when we are veiled
by ignorance in regard to our social and economic differences, we would end up choosing justice
for everyone. Even the principles of justice will come clear to us and for all of us to agree upon.
5. Why does Rawls believe that we wouldnâ??t choose utilitarianism?
Rawls believes that we wouldnâ??t choose utilitarianism because we might end up a member of an
oppressed minority. Ending up as a member of an oppressed minority means that we will suffer
in order for the majority to be happy and enjoy utility.
6. Why does Rawls believe that we wouldnâ??t choose libertarianism?
Rawls believes that we would end up as a homeless person without help from a private charity.
We want to avoid such a system that could leave us destitute and without help.
7. What are the two principles of justice that he believes we would set up in our hypothetic social
contract?
The two principles of justice that Rawls believes in are as following: 1- providing equal basic
liberties for all citizens, such as freedom of speech and religion. 2- The second principle
concerns social and economic equality. Although it does not require an equal distribution
of income and wealth, it permits only those social and economic inequalities that work to
the advantage of the least well off members of society.
8. Are contracts fair because the parties signing them agree to the terms? Is consent a sign of
fairness and justice in contracts? Why or why not?
No, contract can be unfair even if the parties signing them agree to the terms. Consent is not a
sign of fairness and justice in contracts. This is because actual contracts are not self-sufficient
moral instruments. As Sandel puts it â??the mere fact that you and I make a deal is not
enough to make it fair. Of any actual contract, it can always be asked, â??Is it fair, what
they agreed to?â? To answer this question, we canâ??t simply point to the agreement itself;
we need some independent standard of fairness.�
9. Actual contracts, some argue, carry moral weight when what two elements are present? Why
are these two necessary?
Yes, actual contracts carry moral weight as they realize two idealsâ??autonomy and
reciprocity. As Sandel puts it â??contracts express our autonomy; the obligations they
create carry weight because they are self-imposedâ??we take them freely upon ourselves.
As instruments of mutual benefit, contracts draw on the ideal of reciprocity; the
obligation to fulfill them arises from the obligation to repay others for the benefits they
provide us.
10. What are the two points Sandel is trying to make with the toilet/fix/$50,000 charge story?
The two points Sandel is trying to make with the toilet/fix/$charge story are as following:
1- The fact of an agreement does not guarantee the fairness of the agreement.
2- Consent is not enough to create a binding moral claim.
As Sandel explains it â??far from an instrument of mutual benefit, this contract mocks the ideal of
reciprocity. This explains, I think, why few people would say that the elderly woman was
morally obliged to pay the outrageous sum.�
11. How does Sandel support the claim that consent might not be a necessary condition of moral
obligation?
Sandel supports the claim that consent might not be a necessary condition of moral obligation by
bringing the story of Humeâ??s house. As Sandel says â??the idea that an obligation to repay a
benefit can arise without consent is morally plausible in the case of Humeâ??s house.â? Also,
He explained that consent might not be necessary condition of moral obligation in a
benefit-based view rather than a consent-based one.
12. Why do most contracts fall short of the ideals of autonomy and reciprocity?
There is usually someone with a superior bargaining position, agreements arenâ??t wholly
voluntary or even coerced; negotiating with someone with greater knowledge of the things being
exchanged, deal may not be mutually beneficial.
13. Why does he think that the Veil of Ignorance resolves the above-listed issues?
The veil of ignorance resolves the above-listed issued because it ensures the equality of
power and knowledge that the original position requires. As Sandel puts it â??by ensuring
that no one knows his or her place in society, his strengths or weaknesses, his values or
ends, the veil of ignorance ensures that no one can take advantage, even unwittingly, of a
favorable bargaining position.�
14. Why might we decide that a totally equal system of distribution of income is not the best
option? What is the difference principle?
This is because it is not fair. I like how Sandel puts it â??allowing everyone to enter the race is
a good thing. But if the runners start from different starting points, the race is hardly
fair.� That is why, Rawls argues, the distribution of income and wealth that results from a
free market with formal equality of opportunity cannot be considered just. The most
obvious injustice of the libertarian system â??is that it permits distributive shares to be
improperly influenced by these factors so arbitrary from a moral point of view.�
15. Rawls is not concerned with the assessing the fairness of one particular personâ??s salary over
anotherâ??s. He is focusing on systems, structures and the way it allocates rights and duties, income
and wealth, power and opportunities. What does this mean??
Thatâ??s true. He is focusing on systems, structures and the way it allocates rights and duties,
income and wealth, power and opportunities to ensure justice for everyone.
16. Why does Rawls believe that people wouldnâ??t be willing to gamble their chances on a highly
unequal society?
Rawls believes that people wouldnâ??t be willing to gamble their chances on a highly unequal
society because they donâ??t wonâ??t risk ending up in an oppressed minority group. According to
Rawls, we wouldnâ??t choose utilitarianism because behind the veil of ignorance, we donâ??t
know where we will wind up in society, but we do know that we will want to pursue our
ends and be treated with respect. He adds that in order to protect against these dangers,
we would reject utilitarianism and agree to a principle of equal basic liberties for all
citizens, including the right to liberty of conscience and freedom of thought. And we
would insist that this principle take priority over attempts to maximize the general
welfare. We would not sacrifice our fundamental rights and liberties for social and
economic benefits.
17. Why does Rawls argue that the distribution of wealth that results from a free market system
is not just?
Because this system corresponds to the libertarian theory of justice. It represents an improvement
over feudal and caste societies, since it rejects fixed hierarchies of birth. Legally, it allows
everyone to strive and to compete. In practice, however, opportunities may be far from equal.
18. What arbitrary characteristics in our current society allow some people to have a greater
statistical advantage in â??successâ? (money, power, etc.) than others?
Do you mean why?
Arbitrary characteristics in our current society allow some people to have a great statistician
advantages in success (money, power, etc.) because income, wealth, opportunity, and power are
distributed according to the accident of birth. As Sandel puts it â??if you are born into nobility, you
have rights and powers denied those born into serfdom. But the circumstances of your birth are
no doing of yours. So itâ??s unjust to make your life prospects depend on this arbitrary fact.â?
19. Why does Rawls argue that the meritocratic conception of justice is flawed?
He believes that the meritocratic conception corrects for certain morally arbitrary
advantages, but still falls short of justice. Also, both base distributive shares on factors that
are morally arbitrary. â??Even if it works to perfection in eliminating the influence of social
contingencies,â? Rawls writes, the meritocratic system â??still permits the distribution of
wealth and income to be determined by the natural distribution of abilities and talents.�
20. How does Rawlsâ??s difference principle correct for the unequal distribution of talents and
endowments without handicapping the talented?
Rawls shows that a leveling equality is not the only alternative to a meritocratic market
society. Rawlsâ??s alternative, which he calls the difference principle, corrects for the
unequal distribution of talents and endowments without handicapping the talented.
â??Encourage the gifted to develop and exercise their talents, but with the understanding
that the rewards these talents reap in the market belong to the community as a whole.�
21. How does Rawls respond to the objection regarding incentives?
Rawlsâ??s reply is that the difference principle permits income inequalities for the sake of
incentives, provided the incentives are needed to improve the lot of the least advantaged. As
Sandel says â??paying CEOs more or cutting taxes on the wealthy simply to increase the gross
domestic product would not be enough. But if the incentives generate economic growth that
makes those at the bottom better off than they would be with a more equal arrangement, then the
difference principle permits them.�
22. How does Rawls respond to the objection regarding effort?
Rawls believes that even effort may be the product of a favorable upbringing. â??Even the
willingness to make an effort, to try, and so to be deserving in the ordinary sense is itself
dependent upon happy family and social circumstances.â?And as Sandel explains it â??like other
factors in our success, effort is influenced by contingencies for which we can claim no credit.�
â??It seems clear that the effort a person is willing to make is influenced by his natural abilities and
skills and the alternatives open to him. The better endowed are more likely, other things equal, to
strive conscientiously . . .�
23. How does Rawls argue against the idea of â??moral desert?â? (What is moral desert?)
Moral desert is deserving something in moral terms for something you have done. So for
instance if I murder someone, we might think that morally, I deserve to have something bad
happen to me. Or if I help someone out, I deserve to be rewarded. Rawls doesn’t think that we
deserve to benefit from arbitrary things like our skin color or our natural talents – since you’re not
responsible for what color your skin is or what talents you were born with, society shouldn’t
automatically be set up to reward you just for being white or for being able to run really fast.
——————————————————————————————————————Chapter 8
1. Why does Sandel begin this chapter with the story about the cheerleader? What points is
he trying to make with this story?
Sandel begins this chapter with the story about the cheerleader to make two points. The first
point is fairness. The second one is resentment.
2. According to Sandel, how do we determine the fair way of allocating the cheerleading
position?
According to Sandel, we can use the principle of nondiscrimination. It was not Callieâ??s fault that
she is physically disabled. Meaning that as long as she can perform well as a cheerleader, she
should not be excluded.
3. Why might some parents object to Callie being a cheerleader?
Some parents might object to Callie being a cheerleader because of their resentment that
probably reflects a sense that Callie is being accorded an honor she doesnâ??t deserve. As
Sandel puts it â??if great cheerleading is something that can be done from a wheelchair,
then the honor accorded those who excel at tumbles and splits is depreciated to some
degree. If Callie should be a cheerleader because she displays, despite her disability, the
virtues appropriate to the role, her claim does pose a certain threat to the honor accorded
the other cheerleaders.�
4. What are two ideas that are central to Aristotleâ??s conception of justice?
As mentioned in Sandelâ??s book:
1. Justice is teleological. Defining rights requires us to figure out the telos (the purpose,
end, or essential nature) of the social practice in question.
2. Justice is honorific. To reason about the telos of a practiceâ??or to argue about itâ??is, at
least in part, to reason or argue about what virtues it should honor and reward.
5. Why does Aristotle not believe that justice is about pursuing neutral ends?
He does not think that justice can be neutral. He thinks that justice and good life should be
connected as justice is about honor, virtue, and nature of the good life. For Aristotle, justice
means giving people what they deserve, giving each person his or her due.
6. Justice involves what two factors?
Justice involves two factors: â??things, and the persons to whom things are assigned.â?
7. If we were distributing flutesâ??who should get the best flutes? According to Aristotle,
why is this?
The best flute player. This is because the flute should be played well and the best flute player
deserves the best flute because it fits his ability of playing the flute.
8. What is the role of â??purposeâ? in determining who should get what?
The purpose of flutes is to produce excellent music. Those who can best realize this
purpose ought to have the best ones.
9. What is the utilitarian answer to whom should get the best flute? Why doesnâ??t Aristotle
choose this answer?
The utilitarian would answer the same but for a different purpose. The purpose of utilitarian is to
make everyone happy and to produce the best music by giving the best instruments to the best
players as this will create more happiness. Aristotle claims that in order to determine the just
distribution of a good, we have to inquire into the telos, or purpose, of the good being
distributed.
10. What is a telos?
Telos is the purpose.
11. What does it mean for a method to be teleological?
The method is teleological if it considers the purpose or the end of the situation or decision.
12. According to Aristotle, how do we determine the just distribution of a good?
We have to inquire in the telos or purpose of distributing that good.
13. If Nobel Prize winning economists and a varsity tennis team both want to use the tennis
courtsâ??how would Aristotle determine who should use it and why?
According to Aristotle, varsity tennis teams should use it because they have more reasons of
using it since the purpose of the tennis courts are for the tennis players to use it and not really for
economists.
14. Why did Plato and Aristotle believe that fire rose to the sky? How did this impact their
understanding of the natural world?
Because they thought it was trying to reach the sky as its natural home. They thought nature had
a meaningful order because of this.
15. Why donâ??t we use teleological reasoning in science any longer?
We donâ??t do that because modern science found out that nature is governed by the law of
physics.
16. Arguments about justice and rights are often arguments about what?
They are arguments about the distribution of justice and who deserves what and why. They
include distributive justice. They are about the welfare, happiness, and the better chances for us,
the human beings.
17. For Aristotle, what was distributive justice primarily about?
It is primarily about offices and honors. It is about who should have the right to rule and how the
authority should be distributed.
18. What is the purpose of politics for Aristotle? (page 194)
The purpose of politics for Aristotle is for people to have a good life.
19. According to Aristotle, who should hold public office?
Those people who display the greatest civic virtue merit and the highest offices and honors.
According to him, only those who are good and have civic virtue and merit should hold public
office.
20. Why does Aristotle believe that participating in politics is essential for living a good
life?
Because we are in a higher level and degree compared to other animals. Aristotle thinks that we
should participate in politics because we are meant for political association.
21. What does Aristotle mean by â??happiness?â?
According to Aristotle, happiness is not a state of mind but a state of being. We achieve this if
we are virtuous.
22. How does one become â??just?â?
We become just by doing just acts.
23. What is moral education about?
It is about forming habits and shaping characters which should start from early childhood or
youth because habit is hard to change and they are built slowly.
24. For Aristotle, how do you become virtuous?
It is done by being steeped in virtuous behavior.
25. What are habits and how do they relate to virtue?
Habits are formed step by step. However, habit canâ??t be the whole of moral virtue. Habits should
change depending on the situation.
26. What does it mean for moral virtue to be at the mean between the extremes?
It means using the right judgment in any situation. It is doing the right thing at the right time with
the right motive, and in a right way.
27. Why are Kant and Rawls uneasy with the notion of â??fit?â?
It is because liberal theories of justice coming from Kantâ??s and Rawls worry that teleological
conceptions are at odds with freedom. For them, justice is not about fit but about choice.
28. According to a libertarian, Rawls and Aristotle, are dangerous, repetitive jobs just?
Why or why not? For Aristotle, how could it become a just job situation?
For Rawls, it is just if there is a free exchange of labor against fair background conditions. For
Aristotle, the consent is not sufficient but it must be suited to the nature of the workers who
perform.
1. The beginning of this chapter discusses reasons for and against apologizing for wrongs
committed by nation-states. There are many documented cases of companies committing
dehumanizing acts. While you read the nation-state focus in this book, think about it from
the perspective of businesses and the country of origin (if there is one) of the company.
2. On what does the principled objection to official apologies rest?
This is the principled argument tha …
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