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Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

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The veil of ignorance

2 minutes

Want to build a just society? John Rawls said to start by ignoring your identity

What would it take to build a more just society? In contemporary debates about justice, identity is frequently front and centre, but the 20th-century American philosopher John Rawls thought that looking past identity was the key to more equality. In his book A Theory of Justice (1971), Rawls argued that if we could build a society from behind a ‘veil of ignorance’ that kept us from knowing anything about our identity, we would make choices resulting in a fairer society than we now have – one in which all would benefit from greater freedom and ‘fair equality of opportunity’.

Video by BBC Radio 4

Script: Nigel Warburton

Animator: Andrew Park

Support Aeon

Ideas can change the world

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.

But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

Become a Friend for $5 a month or Make a one-off donation

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