If You Want To Fix Society, Imagine Life As A Fetus

If You Want To Fix Society, Imagine Life As A Fetus

John Rawls' Original Position is one of the most valuable thought experiments in political philosophy, it's simple, yet effective, and that's the beauty of it.


I remember sitting in my Critical Thinking class back when I was a freshman in college and absorbing every detail that I learned. That class was amazing to me because it opened my eyes to ethics, epistemology, and expanded my horizons on political thought as well. I don't remember much details about who all we read about and what books we covered, but I remember John Rawls.

John Rawls was a political philosopher in the 20th century who designed a thought experiment to conclusively determine what policy to draft and what kinds of laws would be fair and just. He published this idea in 1971 in his book "A Theory of Justice." The premise of the experiment was this: imagine that you are an unborn fetus, but you know everything you do now, except what class you will be born into, what race you will be, what gender or sex you may be, etc. Your identity is hidden from you, essentially. You then must imagine what conditions in society would be the fairest because you do not know what you will be born into, and you would want to ensure that you would be born into a good life. This was called the "Original Position."

The logic behind this is that without knowledge of one's placement in society, they would have an objective position to examine legislation, policy, and morality. Everyone is a "citizen," not a female citizen, or a black citizen, but simply a citizen. Everyone is on equal ground in the experiment and has no potential identity ties to bolster, and because everyone is essentially in one group, consensus and good policy can spring forth from the thought experiment.

Take this situation, for example, "What conditions would be just in society to ensure that marginalized citizens have an equal opportunity to citizens who are better off?" You might come to the conclusion of providing government services to the marginalized groups to ensure that they are protected, or you may think that more investment should be made into the human capital of all citizens so that everyone has a firm basis and equal investment opportunity. Both of these positions are valid, and they are logical and constructive because we are looking at the issue from a reflexive position, stepping back from our person and analyzing as a metaphysical outsider.

Not only does the original position allow for civil dialogue and constructive discourse, but it may also generate empathy for others as one can imagine how they would feel in another place. It also provides a common baseline to establish a society from because the original position almost always guarantees civil liberties, equal rights, and democracy as constants in the ideal society.

However, the original position is not without its problems. It does not take into account different objective ways of thinking about solutions. Take the situation I mentioned above. Disagreement can be found in it because some may say that government policies may intrude upon the rights of citizens outside the marginalized group, while others may purport that because the interest and need of the marginalized groups are greater, the dominant groups can afford to be intruded upon.

This is mainly an economic issue, too. Some may prefer more collective control to solve problems while others look for more market solutions or any other method of control. These ideas are not tied to one's ethnic, sexual, or social identity and may still be incorporated into the original position logically. Although the original position is designed for everyone to arrive at similar conclusions, it may not always be the case on every issue.

However, the benefits of the original position outweigh the deficits of it. No society is perfect, and we may have our disagreements about how to solve problems, but the original position can give us insight into an objective viewpoint of society and give us all a common baseline to development societal norms and policy from. Also, because of our ignorance of societal position, we may be more sympathetic and open to other ideas that may be presented. The original position increases mutual understanding and cooperation and is a wondrous thought experiment to partake in. It is beautifully simple, and it is an important step in the democratic journey that we should bring attention to again. John Rawls' work was dynamic and completely changed the face of political thought in his time, and his ideas will stand the test of time because of their objectivity and simplicity.

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An Open Letter To Democrats From A Millennial Republican

Why being a Republican doesn't mean I'm inhuman.

Dear Democrats,

I have a few things to say to you — all of you.

You probably don't know me. But you think you do. Because I am a Republican.

Gasp. Shock. Horror. The usual. I know it all. I hear it every time I come out of the conservative closet here at my liberal arts university.

SEE ALSO: What I Mean When I Say I'm A Young Republican

“You're a Republican?" people ask, saying the word in the same tone that Draco Malfoy says “Mudblood."

I know that not all Democrats feel about Republicans this way. Honestly, I can't even say for certain that most of them do. But in my experience, saying you're a Republican on a liberal college campus has the same effect as telling someone you're a child molester.

You see, in this day and age, with leaders of the Republican Party standing up and spouting unfortunately ridiculous phrases like “build a wall," and standing next to Kim Davis in Kentucky after her release, we Republicans are given an extreme stereotype. If you're a Republican, you're a bigot. You don't believe in marriage equality. You don't believe in racial equality. You don't believe in a woman's right to choose. You're extremely religious and want to impose it on everyone else.

Unfortunately, stereotypes are rooted in truth. There are some people out there who really do think these things and feel this way. And it makes me mad. The far right is so far right that they make the rest of us look bad. They make sure we aren't heard. Plenty of us are fed up with their theatrics and extremism.

For those of us brave enough to wear the title “Republican" in this day and age, as millennials, it's different. Many of us don't agree with these brash ideas. I'd even go as far as to say that most of us don't feel this way.

For me personally, being a Republican doesn't even mean that I automatically vote red.

When people ask me to describe my political views, I usually put it pretty simply. “Conservative, but with liberal social views."

“Oh," they say, “so you're a libertarian."

“Sure," I say. But that's the thing. I'm not really a libertarian.

Here's what I believe:

I believe in marriage equality. I believe in feminism. I believe in racial equality. I don't want to defund Planned Parenthood. I believe in birth control. I believe in a woman's right to choose. I believe in welfare. I believe more funds should be allocated to the public school system.

Then what's the problem? Obviously, I'm a Democrat then, right?

Wrong. Because I have other beliefs too.

Yes, I believe in the right to choose — but I'd always hope that unless a pregnancy would result in the bodily harm of the woman, that she would choose life. I believe in welfare, but I also believe that our current system is broken — there are people who don't need it receiving it, and others who need it that cannot access it.

I believe in capitalism. I believe in the right to keep and bear arms, because I believe we have a people crisis on our hands, not a gun crisis. Contrary to popular opinion, I do believe in science. I don't believe in charter schools. I believe in privatizing as many things as possible. I don't believe in Obamacare.

Obviously, there are other topics on the table. But, generally speaking, these are the types of things we millennial Republicans get flack for. And while it is OK to disagree on political beliefs, and even healthy, it is NOT OK to make snap judgments about me as a person. Identifying as a Republican does not mean I am the same as Donald Trump.

Just because I am a Republican, does not mean you know everything about me. That does not give you the right to make assumptions about who I am as a person. It is not OK for you to group me with my stereotype or condemn me for what I feel and believe. And for a party that prides itself on being so open-minded, it shocks me that many of you would be so judgmental.

So I ask you to please, please, please reexamine how you view Republicans. Chances are, you're missing some extremely important details. If you only hang out with people who belong to your own party, chances are you're missing out on great people. Because, despite what everyone believes, we are not our stereotype.


A millennial Republican

Cover Image Credit: NEWSWORK.ORG

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?


Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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