Benjamin Hale also (that is, also along with Chris Bertram mentioned in this previous post) calls on Rawls’ help to think through what to do about the rich — or rather, about the inequalities of wealth caused by so much of it being in the hands of just a few of us. Hale, playing on Rawls’ term “veil of ignorance”, under which we decide how to divide things up without knowing what share we’ll get, introduces the “veil of opulance”, under which:
[We] vote and set policies according to this fantasy. “If I were such and such a wealthy person,” they ask, “how would I feel about giving X percentage of my income, or Y real dollars per year, to pay for services that I will never see nor use?”
Hale concludes, in his New York Times article:
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.
Hale, coincidentally, is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Other Stuff at the University of Colorado, Boulder, which is just around the corner and so he must be a neighbor.
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