Monday, August 13, 2012

The Veil of Opulence vs. The Veil of Ignorance

A very fine article in New York Times (August 12, 2012):

Benjamin Hale - "The Veil of Opulence"

"The question of fairness has widespread application throughout our political discourse. It affects taxation, health care, education, social safety nets and so on. The veil of opulence would have us screen for fairness by asking what the most fortunate among us are willing to bear. The veil of ignorance would have us screen for fairness by asking what any of us would be willing to bear, if it were the case that we, or the ones we love, might be born into difficult circumstances or, despite our hard work, blindsided by misfortune. Society is in place to correct for the injustices of the universe, to ensure that our lives can run smoothly despite the stuff that is far out of our control: not to hand us what we need, but to give us the opportunity to pursue life, liberty and happiness. The veil of ignorance helps us see that. The veil of opulence keeps us in the dark."

Benjamin Hale is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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