The Corner

Rawls & Gosnell

From today’s Goldberg File (You can sign up here, btw):

One of intellectual liberalism’s favorite justifications for “social justice” is the so-called “original position.” This thought experiment is at the heart of John Rawls’s arguments for an interventionist state. Imagine you are a soul, amongst many other souls, waiting for a body in the real world (soul is my word). Now imagine you had a say in how society would be organized and designed. But here’s the hitch: Your discussion of what would constitute the best society must be held behind what Rawls calls a “veil of ignorance.” In other words, you have no idea whether you will be born black or white, rich or poor, gay or straight, healthy or weak, etc. Since you don’t know what card you’ll draw in the great game of life, you’ll want the game to be as fair as possible.

While I have problems with this that aren’t all that relevant to this discussion (Hint: The whole idea that we can “design” societies in this manner is one step removed from immanentizing the eschaton) what is infuriating is that Rawls abandons this entire framework in order to celebrate abortion rights. In Political Liberalism, Rawls says in effect that women’s equality trumps both the social need for children and the necessity of respecting human life.

Now, I don’t know about you, but if I was standing in some metaphysical waiting room, hoping for my one shot at a life on earth (and in Rawls’s view, any life at all), before I had my fingers crossed in the hopes of landing a life as a rich, handsome, and smart guy with a great sense of rhythm, I would first hope that maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t blow my one shot in Kermit Gosnell’s “clinic” getting a few seconds to take in the splendor of a urine- and blood-soaked hell-hole before he grabbed his scissors.

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