Does Rawls succeed in showing that the Difference Principle would be chosen in the Original Position?

Essay by ilkaytonyUniversity, Bachelor'sB, April 2006

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In order to understand Rawls' justifications for choosing the Difference Principle in the Original Position and to establish his relative success we must first have a general understanding of what the Original Position and the Difference Principle comprise of, as well as the conditions he applies.

In this section I will be providing a basic outline of the features of the Original position and the Difference Principle and the pertinent constraints he employs for his reasoning. The basic definition of the Difference Principle is that inequalities can only be justified if they benefit all, especially the worst off in society.

The Original Position is a hypothetical situation under which rational moral people would decide the fundamental principles of justice. A key feature of this situation, -and one that is important to Rawls' main argument for the Difference Principle - is that of the 'veil of ignorance' whereby no-one knows anything about themselves or their position in society that could affect their choice of any distributive principle, knowing only general facts and history of societies and human nature.

He assumes they are mutually disinterested, 'continuing persons' therefore concerned with future generations, pulled from any temporal position and the societies are assumed to be under the circumstances of justice, as Rawls' expresses it:

'...obtain whenever persons put forward conflicting claims to the division of social advantages under conditions of moderate scarcity.'

Rawls' also details formal constraints for the principles, which he later uses as justification for his Difference Principle, whereas principles should have:

- Generality

- Universality in application

- Publicity

- Ordering on conflicting claims

- Finality

In the following section, I will be highlighting Rawls' key arguments for the adoption of the Difference principle in the Original Position and the success of the arguments he makes in line with...