I am in a law school now. The teacher taught us the thought experiment of "veil of ignorance" / "original position" in a Tort Law lecture.

This was my first time hearing such idea.

My answer to the thought experiment is that I choose not to gamble.

Assume I know nothing about the future, my social status, ability, rich or poor, etc. Apply principle of sufficient reason, there is ZERO expected value to be born to the world.

I won't bet on a 0 expected value venture. (By a risk-averse argument)

Under the thought experiment (correct me if I am wrong), I think there is no expressed rule that I can choose not to be born.

Therefore, I find out I will only make a rule of the society:

Everyone must be sentenced to death immediately.

(By some kind of machine if there is no human left in the world)

Under this rule, I can choose not to gamble.

I am also sure nobody else in the world can gamble. One may win in the game. He will have more power/money/ability than me and then I may envy.

I don't think I am the only one in the field of philosophy who has such answer. Are there any school of thought share the same (or similar) answer to veil of ignorance?

  • This question seems to be predicated on a misunderstanding of when/how the veil of ignorance is supposed to work in Rawl's philosophy.
    – virmaior
    Mar 26, 2016 at 3:14
  • As such, I'm not sure whether to answer by explaining the problem with what you're suggesting vis-a-vis Rawls or to vote to close as unclear.
    – virmaior
    Mar 26, 2016 at 3:14
  • 1
    I understand the notion you are portraying regarding the only rule in question being the ability to choose to exist (to be born) or not which would be the only viable alternative in this reality as being born is an automatic death sentence. Of the infinite number of things humanity has zero knowledge on, among them are, 'are we conscious before birth' and 'are we conscious after death'. If the answer to those questions is yes, then there is a reasonable choice that can be made, and thus proof can be shown of intent, justifying either outcome. Mar 26, 2016 at 4:02
  • Looking deeper, you must also ask the question of how one could be born when no humans are left to bear, and under the machine operated world, why they would continue to create if the outcome was certain death. Mar 26, 2016 at 4:03
  • @SanuelJackson I don't really follow how your comments relate the question. The question is about the "veil of ignorance", a notion invented by Rawls ...
    – virmaior
    Mar 26, 2016 at 5:49

1 Answer 1


I'm reasonably certain that no established school of thought has brought such a nihilistic perspective to the veil of ignorance.

This seems like a critical misunderstanding of the original thought experiment. The basic idea is to make decisions that ensure the best outcomes for all by eliminating, as much as possible, the biases of personal self-interest. It's an extension of the Kantian concept that moral laws must be universal and disinterested.

If your belief is truly that the best outcome is immediate death for all, then no philosophical perspective is going to lead to any different result for you. Most people, however, would find this utterly morally abhorrent.

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