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Social Contract for Organizing Justice
Hypothetical Social Contract
Students globally, mainly from college encounter numerous challenges in their endeavor of achieving their academic objectives. However, they may fail to achieve their goals particularly in a situation where individual efforts are a necessity towards the achievement of common objectives. For example, if there is a collective agreement among the students that lateness towards submission of individual assignments is intolerable, any students that violate the agreement should be subjected to harsh punishment, such as, retracting some points or marks from the average grade. Therefore, the establishment of a social contract amongst the students contributes towards the achievement of intended objectives for the common good of everyone. In other words, social contracts produce a positive impact on the learning process. However, students often raise concerns about sharing recognition or acknowledgment for exemplary performance yet not everyone was effective towards the achievement of the set goals.
Three Stages of Justice
In solving such a dilemma and other hypothetical scenarios of such nature, John Rawls introduced the principle of the veil of ignorance. According to Rawls, every person is biased by the situations they create and, therefore, it becomes unclear how people, say, the college students, agree on the social contract of combining their efforts towards achieving of academic qualifications without setting parameters for those that might violate the agreement. In other words, it is important to determine whether students that submit their assignments late perhaps because of reporting to class late should get the same share as the rest that was punctual. In this case, Rawls John, in expounding the stage zero of justice reasoning, alleges that people should visualize sitting behind a veil of ignorance that blocks them from identifying their identity or individual circumstances. Rawls asserts that the ignorance of individual circumstances is what that can assist people in understanding how the society operates. In expounding the philosophy of ‘veil of ignorance” Rawls introduces two principles that fortify his principle (John, 1999).
One of the principles is the liberty principle, whereby, the students should create a social contract that ascertains that every member of the class enjoys his/her freedom optimally without affecting or interfering with the free will of others. The second norm is the difference philosophy, in which the social agreement created should ascertain that every person gets an equal chance of prospering.
In other word, if the social agreement created contains some social or economical disparities, they should be utilized in helping students that are unable to achieve better performance. Essentially, the essence of Justice as postulated by Rawls is ignoring the fact that some of the students are coming to class late hence submitting their assignments late. In other Rawls alleges fairness in such a hypothetical situation would involve allowing each of the students to receive the same grade without taking into account whether their contribution had any impact on the overall performance (John, 1999).
One of the key features evident in the ‘veil of ignorance’ or rather the stage-zero reasoning, is that the aspect of impartiality is a necessity. From the hypothetical situation, the students that manage to come to school early enough as well as submit their assignments in due time might believe that they have the right to obtain all the marks or points awarded. However, the veil of ignorance discounts this perception or belief. In other words, justice becomes plausible or comprehensible when a hypothetical social contract is taken into account (John, 1999). In essence, the “veil of ignorance” can be discounted only if it is possible to identify the specific rights and obligations that bind everyone in the community. The first stage of justice as noted above, therefore allows the students that come late in class to have an equal share of points awarded to everyone in the class.
The second stage of reasoning requires the bargainers to identify the different ways through which the rights and obligations can be interfered with. Bargainers, in our hypothetical social contract, includes students that come in early and submits their assignments in due time. Therefore, the only way that these students can exclude their fellows from sharing same points with them despite their ineffectiveness is when they change the rules. In other words, to ensure that everyone participates equally towards the achievement of a common goal, they need to alter some of the rules pertaining to the rights and obligations assigned to each member of the class (John, 1999). In such a case, they will be justified in excluding those that failed to make prompt submission of their assignments.
The third and final stage of justice occurs when the bargainers identify suitable responses to acts that interfere with the rights and obligations. Although the students are justified in denying their fellows that failed to participate in achieving the common objective, the reason(s) they give must comply or align with the set laws. However, although the social agreement among the students may not be legally enforceable, in terms of pursuing justice for everyone, the rights and responsibilities identified by the bargainers are binding. Therefore, it is justifiable to deny the students reporting late in class the same points with those that are punctual (John, 1999).
John, R. (1999). A Theory of Justice. Harvard University Press. p. 118. ISBN 0-674-00078-1