Identify some passages that you think have philosophical significance.

| March 29, 2017



Read the Declaration of Independence. Identify some passages that you think have philosophical significance. Which of the specific ideas from some of the social political philosophies we’ve discussed in lectures/discussions/readings are evident in this key document from America’s founding and history.

I think some of the passages with the most philosophical significance would be the emphasis on the grievances of the American people over the English ruler- specifically the line that “a prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define him a Tyrant, is unfit to be a ruler of a free people.” This references not only the Machievallian theory of what it means to be a ruler but said aside a new definition of how a ruler needs to be responsible for their people. Other specific ideas from this document are the ideas of unalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. These ideas stem from the work of the Enlightenment as well as the ideas of John Stuart Mill, stating that people had rights by birth regardless of their leader or class.


Imagine you are behind Rawls’ veil of ignorance. What are some of the core values and principles that would be included in your ideal society? Which of these values are embodied in contemporary American society? Which are left out? Do you think the veil of ignorance accomplishes the fairness Rawls seeks? Why or why not?

Core values and principles that would be included in my ideal society would be the right to make personal decisions, the right to own and distribute property as well as the right to “live” without facing consequences. I think that the right to own and distribute property is embodied in contemporary society in our free market economy. However, I also think it is not fully embodied because of the restrictions on our economy and the road blocks that set aside how property is allocated. While someone from the lower class can own and buy property, they face more financial constraints, tax restrictions and opportunities to do so. I also believe that the right to “live” and to make personal decisions is restricted in American society as seen in issues such as abortion and gay marriage. While the constitution gives us “liberty”, it is arguable that no one is ever truly free.

I think that the veil of ignorance attempts to accomplish fairness but will never reach complete fairness. Rawl’s veil of ignorance assumes that personal considerations will never come into play as long as the person prevents it. However, personal considerations permeate every aspect our daily lives regardless of how we may try to shut it out. Secondly, personal considerations relate the official to the other people. Without understanding how we relate to others, I don’t think we really understand what others need or what should be considered “fair.” Therefore, fairness is only an ideal under the veil of ignorance.

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