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Knowledge management English debating Society Universitas Indonesia Internal Division JUSTICE CONCEPTS: VEIL OF IGNORANCE, EGALITARIAN, COMMUNITARIAN,


In this edition of Knowledge Management, we will be looking at several concepts like Veil of Ignorance, egalitarian as well as communitarian view, and reciprocity. It is highly suggested for the reader to read the previous edition first. Veil of Ignorance is also known as the Original Position concept by John Rawls, a device to see whether a means is just regardless of the social position of one. In taking up this point of view, we are to imagine ourselves in the position of free and equal persons who jointly agree upon and commit themselves to principles of social and political justice. The main distinguishing feature of the original position is the veil of ignorance: to insure impartiality of judgment, the parties are deprived of all knowledge of their personal characteristics and social and historical circumstances. They do know of certain fundamental interests they all have, plus general facts about psychology, economics, biology, and other social and natural sciences. The parties in the original position are presented with a list of the main conceptions of justice drawn from the tradition of social and political philosophy, and are assigned the task of choosing from among these alternatives the conception of justice that best advances their interests in establishing conditions that enable them to effectively pursue their final ends and fundamental interests. Rawls contends that the most rational choice for the parties in the original position are the two principles of justice. The first principle guarantees the equal basic rights and liberties needed to secure the fundamental interests of free and equal citizens and to pursue a wide range of conceptions of the good. The second principle provides fair equality of educational and employment opportunities enabling all to fairly compete for powers and prerogatives of office; and it secures for all a guaranteed

minimum of the all-purpose means (including income and wealth) that individuals need to pursue their interests and to maintain their self-respect as free and equal persons. The problem with this argument, for example, in an imaginary society consisted of 3 persons where wealth is distributed as Rp10; Rp10; Rp10, those three persons should rather be in a society of Rp11; Rp13, Rp20 because having at least Rp11 would be better than Rp10, but people always have different views of what is the best for the society, and some people would prefer equality of distribution. The point above is useful to comprehend our next concept: egalitarianism. It is a thought that people should be treated the same way in some respects. Egalitarianism can be instrumental or noninstrumental. Given a specification of some aspect of people's condition or mode of treating them that should be equal, one might hold that the state of affairs in which the stated equality obtains is morally valuable either as an end or as a means. The instrumental egalitarian values equality as a means to some independently specifiable goal; the noninstrumental egalitarian values equality for its own sake--as an end, or as partly constitutive of some end. For example, someone who believes that the maintenance of equality across a group of people fosters relations of solidarity and community among them, and is desirable for that reason, qualifies as an instrumental egalitarian. Someone who believes that equality of some sort is a component of justice, and morally required as such, would be a noninstrumental egalitarian. Equality of any sort might be valued conditionally or unconditionally. One values equality in the former way if equality is deemed valuable only if some further condition is in place. One might hold that equality in the distribution of resources among a group of persons is valuable, but only on the condition that the individuals are equally deserving. Equality might be deemed to be desirable or undesirable. A separate and distinct range of questions concerns whether or not people ought to act to bring about equality or are obligated to bring about equality (see Nagel 1991). The discussion to come often merges these questions, the assumption being that if equality is valuable, that is at least one good reason for thinking one should bring it about.

In the practical level, liberal countries such as UK or France do believe in egalitarianism in a way that everyone should get their basic needs, guaranteed, in order to have a starting point in pursuing desirable quality of life. This comes in form of welfare supports along with high taxations, and also public facilities and healthcare system. Communitarianists, in the other side of the philosophical world, argue that the standards of justice must be found in forms of life and traditions of particular societies and hence can vary from context to context. Alasdair MacIntyre and Charles Taylor argued that moral and political judgment will depend on the language of reasons and the interpretive framework within which agents view their world, hence that it makes no sense to begin the political enterprise by abstracting from the interpretive dimensions of human beliefs, practices, and institutions. Michael Walzer developed the additional argument that effective social criticism must derive from and resonate with the habits and traditions of actual people living in specific times and places. Even if there is nothing problematic about a formal procedure of universalizability meant to yield a determinate set of human goods and values, any such set would have to be considered in terms so abstract that they would be of little use in thinking about particular distributions. In another direction, communitarianism as a particularist view also argue that, given the same situation as the point above, someone will always owe his or her community, and will always owe more to his or her own community that oher communities. This justifies reciprocal attitude in the society, and more importantly, this justifies the community to demand something back from its members (see deserving or not deserving in the previous edition of KM).