13th Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Zabdyr-Jamróz

Michał Zabdyr-Jamróz

Compassion behind the Veil of Ignorance: Is Solidarity Possible in the Original Position?

In my paper I argue that the Rawlsian veil of ignorance in the original position – after a minor reinterpretation – could be a promising device for inducing an ethical sense of respect and solidarity among people. Firstly, I examine the characteristics of knowledge that is ignored behind the veil. I notice that only the kind of knowledge that betrays our position should be “veiled”, thus – even behind the “thick” veil – some essential yet “particular” facts on class, health and wealth redistribution are available. Secondly, I argue that the veil of ignorance does not provide impartiality by detaching us from society; rather, it submerges us in it through the idea of “reciprocity” – situated between “impartiality” and “mutual interest” (thus combining procedural and allocative justice). It should be noted here that these terms used by Rawls are somewhat misleading in what they actually designate; hence, careful examination should be provided. Finally, I conclude that – with the presented reinterpretation – the veil could be considered a heuristic leverage converting self-interest into empathy and supporting compassion solidarity.