In 1972, the publication of John Rawls` influential A Theory of Justice brought moral and political philosophy back from a long philosophical pause. Rawls` theory is based on a Kantonic understanding of people and their abilities. For Rawls, as for Kant, people have the ability to think from a universal point of view, which means that they have the particular moral ability to judge principles from an impartial point of view. In A Theory of Justice, Rawls argues that the moral and political point of view is discovered by impartiality. (It is important to note that this view, described in A Theory of Justice, was extensively revised by Rawls and described his later view as “political liberalism.”) He invokes this point of view (the general point of view that Thomas Nagel describes as “the point of view of nothingness”) by imagining people in a hypothetical situation, the original position, characterized by the epistemical limitation of the veil of ignorance. Rawls` original position is his very abstract version of the state of nature. This is the position from which we can discover the nature of justice and what it requires of us as individuals and the social institutions through which we will live together in a cooperative way. In the initial position, behind the veil of ignorance, one is deprived of any particular knowledge of one`s own circumstances, such as sex, race, special talents or disabilities, age, social status, the particular idea of what makes a good life or the particular state of the society in which you live. It is also assumed that people are rational and selfless in the well-being of the other. These are the conditions under which, according to Mr.
Rawls, principles for a just society can be chosen, which are themselves chosen for a level playing field. Since no one has the particular knowledge that he or she could use to develop principles that promote his or her own particular circumstances, in other words, knowledge that highlights and maintains prejudices, the principles chosen from such a perspective are necessarily correct. For example, if we do not know whether, in the society for which we must choose the fundamental principles of justice, we are feminine or masculine, from the point of view of selfish rationality, to support a principle that favours one sex at the expense of another, because once the veil of ignorance is lifted, one could find ourselves on the loser of such a principle.