liberal author who tries to determine principles of just society
with the help of hypothetical contract among members of a
society. It is supposed that individuals who make this contract
primarily care for their self-interest, that they are rational,
well informed about human nature and functioning of society,
and that they are placed under so called veil of ignorance.
This last and the most important condition means that they
do not know anything about those of their characteristics
and circumstances that might influence impartiality of the
decision-making. Since economic talent belongs to those characteristics,
and since every party to the contract is afraid (not knowing
his willingness to accept risks) that he could discover that
he lacks such a talent after the veil is lifted, but at the
same time wants to secure to himself as good position as possible,
the difference principle will be chosen. It says that
economic inequalities are allowed but only if they benefit
even the least advantaged individuals. Namely, at the first
glance it seems that this approach would induce individuals
to chose strict equality among all members of their society.
However, such a decision would not be beneficial to anyone
because in that case the talented individuals would not want
to work as productively as they otherwise could, which would
result in inferior wealth of the whole society. Therefore,
even those who are afraid that they might discover that they
are the least advantaged (all the parties to the Rawlsian
contract feel such a fear), would accept to grant greater
share of resources to the talented but only if the latter
give them some part of their extra wealth. This principle
is in practice viewed as a justification of progressive taxation
of the rich.
has many followers. The most important of them are:
Bruce Ackerman, Brian Barry, Will Kymlicka, Thomas Nagel,
Thomas Pogge, Jeremy Waldron, etc.