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Tasks: Can You Design a Fairer Society?

Below you will find a presentation project based on philosopher John Rawls's idea of the veil of ignorance. In this presentation project you are tasked to invent a new and fairer world.
Illustration: Stick figures on one side of a wall, simple human designs on the other.
Åpne bilde i et nytt vindu

What is the veil of ignorance?

The veil of ignorance is a thought experiment by philosopher John Rawls, first presented in his book A Theory of Justice in 1971. When you are behind the veil of ignorance, you know nothing about your class, your privileges, your disadvantages, your abilities, your health, or even your personality. This makes you impartial. From this starting point you are asked to design a fair and just society that you will be happy to live in no matter who you turn out to be once you emerge from behind the veil.


Work with a partner, or in groups. Discuss and make an oral presentation that lasts at least six minutes. Use a presentation tool, for example Power Point. Find or make illustrations that are suitable for your presentation.

  • Imagine that you are given absolute power to redesign society.
  • How do you distribute wealth and power?
  • Will this be a society where all people are equal, or would you want the same differences as we have in the world today?
  • You only have power over the structure of the society; you cannot for example say that in your society, no one will ever get sick, fail an exam, or become unemployed. People in your new society will need to put food on the table, have roofs over their heads, and clothes to wear.
  • Before you start, you also need to realize that you do not know who or what you will be in this new society. You may be born with a disability, you may be poor, you may be rich, you may be healthy, you may be sick, you may be strong, you may be weak. Given this uncertainty: What kind of society would you design to ensure the best possible life for yourself?

Relatert innhold

Article that explains the difference between absolute poverty and relative poverty.

CC BY-SASkrevet av Tone Hesjedal.
Sist faglig oppdatert 28.10.2020


Democracy and Human Rights