Contingency and Political Positions

I just finished rereading A Theory of Justice by John Rawls for a philosophy reading group. One of the themes I noticed is the attempt to deal with contingency in politics.

Rawls acknowledges that everyone approaches political decisions from their own point of view, with unique biases and ideas. The original position is designed to overcome these biases by acknowledging them and then rationally agreeing to make decisions while ignoring individual personal biases. For Rawls it is possible for people to use reason to overcome their prejudices. Once those prejudices are slaked then the real work of political justice can begin by the four-stage process of building just institutions based on the two principles of justice agreed upon behind the veil of ignorance.

A few days ago James Kwak at the Baseline Scenario wrote a post on whether hard working people deserve to make more money. Kwak acknowledges that contingency is as important to financial success as hard work. Sometimes people just get lucky and get very rich as a result. Is Bill Gates really work so much harder than any other software CEO that he deserves a financial result that is orders of magnitude greater than other CEOs?

Todd Suomela
Associate Director for Digital Pedagogy & Scholarship Department

My interests include digital scholarship, citizen science, leadership, and communications.