Main content

Philosopher Angie Hobbs on the Veil of Ignorance

Angie Hobbs, Leif Wenar and David Runciman explore one of the most searching ideas of 20th-century legal thought: John Rawls' belief in the value of a veil of ignorance.

Angie Hobbs with Leif Wenar and David Runciman debate and explore one of the most searching ideas of twentieth century legal thought: John Rawls' assertion of the value of a veil of ignorance.

John Rawls was a prolific American philosopher and one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century. His magnum opus, A Theory of Justice defines the principles of Justice as those that "everyone would accept and agree to from a fair position". He proposed that in order to build a truly 'just' system of law, the law-makers should be kept unaware of their eventual position within that system - they should determine what is best for society from a position outside of society. This famous thought experiment is known as the 'veil of ignorance'.

Rawls served as a soldier in the Second World War and was promoted to Sergeant. After he refused to discipline a fellow soldier, who he thought had done nothing wrong, he was demoted back to Private.

Producer: Tim Dee.

Available now

11 minutes

Clip

Broadcasts

Learn more with The Open University

Learn more with The Open University

Watch the animations and then delve into free related content from The Open University.

Change a light bulb, check your emails...

Change a light bulb, check your emails...

What can you do in 4 minutes? Join us in some intelligent time wasting.

Podcast