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To understand John Rawls's theory of justice, one first needs to grasp

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To understand John Rawls's theory of justice, one first needs to grasp  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 26 Sep 2019, 01:19
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New Project RC Butler 2019 - Practice 2 RC Passages Everyday
Passage # 84, Date : 14-MAR-2019
This post is a part of New Project RC Butler 2019. Click here for Details


To understand John Rawls's theory of justice, one first needs to grasp what he was reacting against. The dominant approach in pre-Rawls political philosophy was utilitarianism, which emphasized maximizing the fulfillment of people's preferences. At first sight, utilitarianism seems plausible-what else should we do but try to achieve the most satisfaction possible for the greatest number of people?-but the theory has some odd consequences. Suppose executing an innocent person will appease a mob, and that doing so will therefore increase total satisfaction. Incredibly, a utilitarian would have to endorse the execution. Rawls accordingly complains that, in the utilitarian view, there is no reason "why the violation of the liberty of a few might not be made right by the greater good shared by many."

If we reject utilitarianism and its view about the aim of the good life, how can we know what justice requires? Rawls offers an ingenious answer. He asserts that even if people do not agree on the aim of the good life, they can accept a fair procedure for settling what the principles of justice should be. This is key to Rawls's theory: Whatever arises from a fair procedure is just.

But what is a fair procedure? Rawls again has a clever approach, beginning with his famous veil of ignorance. Suppose five children have to divide a cake among themselves. One child cuts the cake but does not know who will get which shares. The child is likely to divide the cake into equal shares to avoid the possibility of receiving the smallest share, an arrangement that the others will also admit to be fair. By denying the child information that would bias the result, a fair outcome can be achieved.

Rawls generalizes the point of this example of the veil of ignorance. His thought experiment features a situation, which he calls the original position, in which people are self-interested but do not know their own station in life, abilities, tastes, or even gender. Under the limits of this ignorance, individuals motivated by self-interest endeavor to arrive at a solution in which they will not lose, because nobody loses. The result will be a just arrangement.

Rawls thinks that people, regardless of their plan of life, want certain "primary goods." These include rights and liberties, powers and opportunities, and income and wealth. Without these primary goods, people cannot accomplish their goals, whatever they may be. Hence, any individual in the original position will agree that everyone should get at least a minimum amount of these primary goods. Unfortunately, this is an inherently redistributionist idea, since the primary goods are not natural properties of human beings. If someone lacks a primary good, it must be provided, at the expense of others if necessary.
1) The author's primary purpose in the passage is to

(A) show why a once-dominant theory was abandoned
(B) describe the novel way in which a theory addresses a problem
(C) sketch the historical development of a celebrated theory
(D) debate the pros and cons of a complex theory
(E) argue for the truth of a controversial theory.



2) According to the passage, Rawls uses which one of the following devices to explain his theory?

(A) a thought experiment
(B) a process of elimination
(C) an empirical study of social institutions
(D) a deduction from a few basic principles
(E) a consideration of the meaning of words



3) With which one of the following statements would both Rawls and the author of the passage be most likely to agree?

(A) There are situations in which it is permissible to treat the fulfillment of one person's preferences as more important than the fulfillment of the majority's preferences.
(B) Unless individuals set aside their own self-interest, they cannot make fair judgments about the distribution of goods.
(C) If an individual lacks a good, society must sometimes provide that good, even if this means taking it from others.
(D) Most people agree about which of the primary goods is the most valuable.
(E) It is fair to sacrifice the individual's interests if doing so will maximize the satisfaction of the majority.



4) The author's stance toward Rawls's theory is most accurately described as one of

(A) scholarly neutrality with respect both to its objectives and its development
(B) disdain for its pretensions camouflaged by declarations of respect for its author
(C) sympathy with its recommendations tempered with skepticism about its cogency
(D) enthusiasm for its aims mingled with doubts about its practicality
(E) admiration for its ingenuity coupled with misgivings about some of its implications




  • Source: LSAT Official PrepTest 80 (Dec-2016)
  • Difficulty Level: 700

Originally posted by akanshaxo on 17 Feb 2019, 06:55.
Last edited by SajjadAhmad on 26 Sep 2019, 01:19, edited 7 times in total.
Updated - Complete topic (678).
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Re: To understand John Rawls's theory of justice, one first needs to grasp  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Mar 2019, 02:45
Q.4...Why not (A)?..
Throughout the passage the author has passively supported the Rawls theoory which can be termed as Scholarly neutrality....Even the doubt about some of its implications as mentioned in option E is presented as Rawls view and not the author's himself.
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Re: To understand John Rawls's theory of justice, one first needs to grasp  [#permalink]

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New post 14 Mar 2019, 21:51
Hello ,
For Q3,Can someone explain why 'c 'is wrong as in the last para the author and rawl do agree on providing the necessary good ?

regards
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Re: To understand John Rawls's theory of justice, one first needs to grasp  [#permalink]

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New post 15 Mar 2019, 14:04
2
Debashis Roy wrote:
Q.4...Why not (A)?..
Throughout the passage the author has passively supported the Rawls theoory which can be termed as Scholarly neutrality....Even the doubt about some of its implications as mentioned in option E is presented as Rawls view and not the author's himself.


Hi there,

I chose answer E because there were several adjectives used in the passage that indicated the author was not neutral. Some of those sentences (with the opinionated word) are below:

"Rawls offers an ingenious answer."

"Rawls again has a clever approach, beginning with his famous veil of ignorance."

"Rawls thinks that people, regardless of their plan of life, want certain "primary goods." .... Unfortunately, this is an inherently redistributionist idea, since the primary goods are not natural properties of human beings."

The first two are praising his intelligence, but the use of the word "Unfortunately" in the last sentence indicates that the author is unhappy about at least one implication of Rawl's theory. That is why I chose E, because it has both positive and negative attitudes towards this theory.

I hope this makes sense, please let me know if you have any other questions.

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Re: To understand John Rawls's theory of justice, one first needs to grasp  [#permalink]

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New post 15 Mar 2019, 14:07
2
ritika50 wrote:
Hello ,
For Q3,Can someone explain why 'c 'is wrong as in the last para the author and rawl do agree on providing the necessary good ?

regards


Hi Rikita,

Let me know if this makes sense. I chose Answer A for this question because it has the strongest evidence that both the author and Rawls agree on the idea of treating one person's preferences as more important than total. This is alluded to in the following quote:

"Suppose executing an innocent person will appease a mob, and that doing so will therefore increase total satisfaction. Incredibly, a utilitarian would have to endorse the execution. Rawls accordingly complains that, in the utilitarian view, there is no reason "why the violation of the liberty of a few might not be made right by the greater good shared by many.""

Option C feels like a good choice because of the last paragraph, but the author subtly indicates that they do not agree with this statement. Their use of the word "unfortunately" in the below quote from the last paragraph indicates that the author would prefer not to make society pay for the goods of other individuals, while Rawls indicates that he agrees with that concept.

"Rawls thinks that people, regardless of their plan of life, want certain "primary goods." These include rights and liberties, powers and opportunities, and income and wealth. .... Unfortunately, this is an inherently redistributionist idea, since the primary goods are not natural properties of human beings."

Let me know if this makes sense.

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Re: To understand John Rawls's theory of justice, one first needs to grasp  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Mar 2019, 00:34
1
cfc26 wrote:
ritika50 wrote:
Hello ,
For Q3,Can someone explain why 'c 'is wrong as in the last para the author and rawl do agree on providing the necessary good ?

regards


Hi Rikita,

Let me know if this makes sense. I chose Answer A for this question because it has the strongest evidence that both the author and Rawls agree on the idea of treating one person's preferences as more important than total. This is alluded to in the following quote:

"Suppose executing an innocent person will appease a mob, and that doing so will therefore increase total satisfaction. Incredibly, a utilitarian would have to endorse the execution. Rawls accordingly complains that, in the utilitarian view, there is no reason "why the violation of the liberty of a few might not be made right by the greater good shared by many.""

Option C feels like a good choice because of the last paragraph, but the author subtly indicates that they do not agree with this statement. Their use of the word "unfortunately" in the below quote from the last paragraph indicates that the author would prefer not to make society pay for the goods of other individuals, while Rawls indicates that he agrees with that concept.

"Rawls thinks that people, regardless of their plan of life, want certain "primary goods." These include rights and liberties, powers and opportunities, and income and wealth. .... Unfortunately, this is an inherently redistributionist idea, since the primary goods are not natural properties of human beings."

Let me know if this makes sense.

CFC



Thanks for clarifying that makes sense , as i did not look for the word unfortunately to differentiate that option from A.

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Re: To understand John Rawls's theory of justice, one first needs to grasp  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Mar 2019, 03:18
Debashis Roy wrote:
Q.4...Why not (A)?..
Throughout the passage the author has passively supported the Rawls theoory which can be termed as Scholarly neutrality....Even the doubt about some of its implications as mentioned in option E is presented as Rawls view and not the author's himself.


In Para 2 author says, Rawls has an 'ingenious' answer.
In further para he again says, rawl has a 'clever' approach...This shows admiration by author
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Re: To understand John Rawls's theory of justice, one first needs to grasp  [#permalink]

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New post 15 Apr 2019, 00:13
All correct except question 3 in 9 mins including almost 5 mins to read

Para 1- utilitarianism -- flaw
Para 2- Rawls's theory: Whatever arises from a fair procedure is just
Para 3- veil of ignorance- cake experiment
Para 4- Why it works
Para 5- primary goods- at least a minimum amount; redistribution of primary goods


1) The author's primary purpose in the passage is to
(B) describe the novel way in which a theory addresses a problem- Correct; Rawls's theory of justice addresses the problem in an ingenious way

2) According to the passage, Rawls uses which one of the following devices to explain his theory?
(A) a thought experiment- Correct

Rawls again has a clever approach, beginning with his famous veil of ignorance. Suppose five children have to divide a cake among themselves. One child cuts the cake but does not know who will get which shares. The child is likely to divide the cake into equal shares to avoid the possibility of receiving the smallest share, an arrangement that the others will also admit to be fair.

4) The author's stance toward Rawls's theory is most accurately described as one of
(E) admiration for its ingenuity coupled with misgivings about some of its implications- Correct;

If we reject utilitarianism and its view about the aim of the good life, how can we know what justice requires? Rawls offers an ingenious answer.
Rawls again has a clever approach, beginning with his famous veil of ignorance.
Unfortunately, this is an inherently redistributionist idea, since the primary goods are not natural properties of human beings.


3) With which one of the following statements would both Rawls and the author of the passage be most likely to agree?

(A) There are situations in which it is permissible to treat the fulfillment of one person's preferences as more important than the fulfillment of the majority's preferences.
(B) Unless individuals set aside their own self-interest, they cannot make fair judgments about the distribution of goods.
(C) If an individual lacks a good, society must sometimes provide that good, even if this means taking it from others.
(D) Most people agree about which of the primary goods is the most valuable.
(E) It is fair to sacrifice the individual's interests if doing so will maximize the satisfaction of the majority.

In question 3, I chose option C but the OA is A. Please help.

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Re: To understand John Rawls's theory of justice, one first needs to grasp  [#permalink]

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New post 15 Apr 2019, 10:38
Skywalker18 wrote:
All correct except question 3 in 9 mins including almost 5 mins to read

Para 1- utilitarianism -- flaw
Para 2- Rawls's theory: Whatever arises from a fair procedure is just
Para 3- veil of ignorance- cake experiment
Para 4- Why it works
Para 5- primary goods- at least a minimum amount; redistribution of primary goods

4) The author's stance toward Rawls's theory is most accurately described as one of
(E) admiration for its ingenuity coupled with misgivings about some of its implications- Correct;

If we reject utilitarianism and its view about the aim of the good life, how can we know what justice requires? Rawls offers an ingenious answer.
Rawls again has a clever approach, beginning with his famous veil of ignorance.
Unfortunately, this is an inherently redistributionist idea, since the primary goods are not natural properties of human beings.

3) With which one of the following statements would both Rawls and the author of the passage be most likely to agree?

(A) There are situations in which it is permissible to treat the fulfillment of one person's preferences as more important than the fulfillment of the majority's preferences.
(B) Unless individuals set aside their own self-interest, they cannot make fair judgments about the distribution of goods.
(C) If an individual lacks a good, society must sometimes provide that good, even if this means taking it from others.
(D) Most people agree about which of the primary goods is the most valuable.
(E) It is fair to sacrifice the individual's interests if doing so will maximize the satisfaction of the majority.

In question 3, I chose option C but the OA is A. Please help.
generis , other experts

Skywalker18 , Question 3 is hard because the author sneaks in a somewhat inconsistent
disapproval of Rawls' theory near the end of the passage.
By that time, we are probably inclined to believe that the author supports Rawls.

3) "With which ... statement would both Rawls and the author of the passage be most likely to agree?"

Answer (C) does not work. The author does not like one consequence of Rawls's theory: redistribution required by certain cases.

• According to Rawls, "everyone should get a least a minimum amount of primary goods."
About this very sentence, the author comments,
Unfortunately, this is an inherently redistributionist idea..."

(I can see from your notes that you caught the sentence. I would bet that your mind, at that point
primed to believe that the author would support Rawls, did not process the "unfortunately.")

• The author does not agree with redistribution of goods—even of water
and even if, say, Ananya will die without it and Saanvi has more than enough water.

Redistribution means that if Ananya does not have any water; and if Saanvi has more than enough water;
then water must be redistributed from Saanvi to Ananya. Ananya will die without water.

Taking some water from Saanyi and giving it to Ananya is, according to the author,
"Unfortunately, ... an inherently redistributionist idea, [whose application is] at the expense of others if necessary."
-- Well, yes. So that Ananya can live, some water that Saanyi does not need is given to Ananya.
-- The water is redistributed.
For this author, taking water from Saanyi is unfortunate and at Saanyi's expense.
"At someone's expense" suggests disadvantaging or victimizing someone, namely, Saanyi.
(Ananya's expense does not matter. Saanyi owned the water first.)

The author does not agree that "if an individual lacks a good, society must sometimes provide that good, even if this means taking it from others."

Answer (C) does not work.
Now what to do?

• One tactic is to go back and look at text we might instinctively avoid or overlook.
One hint in (A) comes from the word "majority."
Utilitarians believe in the greatest good for the greatest number (the majority in that situation).

The mob example. Utilitarians would have to endorse
the execution of an innocent person to appease a mob.

Rawls rejects this position. The author likewise calls endorsing the execution "incredible"—impossible to believe.
In this situation, the innocent person should not be executed.

Answer A is our best bet:
(A) There are situations in which it is permissible to treat the fulfillment of one person's preferences as more important than the fulfillment of the majority's preferences.

The innocent person should not be executed.
Both Rawls and the author reject the utilitarian argument in favor of execution. Preferences?
The innocent person's preference is to live—to avoid execution.
The mob's preference is to execute the innocent person.

In this situation, Rawls and the author would both agree that the mob's preferences
should not be fulfilled
and are not as important as the preferences of one innocent person.
That agreement supports answer (A).

I hope that analysis helps.
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Re: To understand John Rawls's theory of justice, one first needs to grasp  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Apr 2019, 01:41
Skywalker18 wrote:
All correct except question 3 in 9 mins including almost 5 mins to read

Para 1- utilitarianism -- flaw
Para 2- Rawls's theory: Whatever arises from a fair procedure is just
Para 3- veil of ignorance- cake experiment
Para 4- Why it works
Para 5- primary goods- at least a minimum amount; redistribution of primary goods


1) The author's primary purpose in the passage is to
(B) describe the novel way in which a theory addresses a problem- Correct; Rawls's theory of justice addresses the problem in an ingenious way

2) According to the passage, Rawls uses which one of the following devices to explain his theory?
(A) a thought experiment- Correct

Rawls again has a clever approach, beginning with his famous veil of ignorance. Suppose five children have to divide a cake among themselves. One child cuts the cake but does not know who will get which shares. The child is likely to divide the cake into equal shares to avoid the possibility of receiving the smallest share, an arrangement that the others will also admit to be fair.

4) The author's stance toward Rawls's theory is most accurately described as one of
(E) admiration for its ingenuity coupled with misgivings about some of its implications- Correct;

If we reject utilitarianism and its view about the aim of the good life, how can we know what justice requires? Rawls offers an ingenious answer.
Rawls again has a clever approach, beginning with his famous veil of ignorance.
Unfortunately, this is an inherently redistributionist idea, since the primary goods are not natural properties of human beings.


3) With which one of the following statements would both Rawls and the author of the passage be most likely to agree?

(A) There are situations in which it is permissible to treat the fulfillment of one person's preferences as more important than the fulfillment of the majority's preferences.
(B) Unless individuals set aside their own self-interest, they cannot make fair judgments about the distribution of goods.
(C) If an individual lacks a good, society must sometimes provide that good, even if this means taking it from others.
(D) Most people agree about which of the primary goods is the most valuable.
(E) It is fair to sacrifice the individual's interests if doing so will maximize the satisfaction of the majority.

In question 3, I chose option C but the OA is A. Please help.

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For question no 3, we get that the answer is (A) from 1st paragraph:

To understand John Rawls's theory of justice, one first needs to grasp what he was reacting against ... utilitarianism... At first sight, utilitarianism seems plausible but the theory has some odd consequences. Suppose executing an innocent person will appease a mob, and that doing so will therefore increase total satisfaction. Incredibly, a utilitarian would have to endorse the execution. (Words such as "odd", "incredibly" show that the AUTHOR is against this fallout of Utilitarianism) Rawls accordingly complains that, in the utilitarian view, there is no reason "why the violation of the liberty of a few might not be made right by the greater good shared by many." (So RAWL was against this fallout of Utilitarianism too)

(A) There are situations in which it is permissible to treat the fulfillment of one person's preferences as more important than the fulfillment of the majority's preferences.
So both Rawl and the author agree on (A)

(C) is incorrect as per the last paragraph.

Rawls thinks that people want certain "primary goods." These include rights and liberties, ... Hence, any individual in the original position will agree that everyone should get at least a minimum amount of these primary goods. (RAWL thinks the everyone should get at least a min amount of these goods) Unfortunately, this is an inherently redistributionist idea, since the primary goods are not natural properties of human beings. If someone lacks a primary good, it must be provided, at the expense of others if necessary. (AUTHOR says "unfortunately this is redistributionist..." He does not agree with this)

(C) If an individual lacks a good, society must sometimes provide that good, even if this means taking it from others.

Hence they do not agree on (C)
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Re: To understand John Rawls's theory of justice, one first needs to grasp   [#permalink] 23 Apr 2019, 01:41
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