Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Veil of Ignorance

I am a stickler for rules I believe in. I think they make the game better. Whether it is touch rugby, poker, or life. It is tempting to say, 'just relax, we are just having fun', but without rules we all agree on, and understand, things aren't as fun. I am also a believer in giving the benefit of the doubt. If you are playing touch rugby, don't call a forward pass unless you genuinely believe it was a forward pass. If you call marginal passes, people will stop believing you and arguments will ensue. Let the game flow. Pick your battles.

Games are fun when you know the rules

If the rules are clear enough, and everyone understands them, you almost don't need a referee. 'Almost', because half the fun of the game is the irrationality. You are only a true supporter of a sports team when you can shout at the ref. I get completely irrational when it comes to sport. I love England. I think it is a fantastic country full of warm people who have been very welcoming to me. I love it when England lose. Sorry. And that is why you need a ref. 'Fact and Fiction work as a team'. 

I am a believer in the power of Constitutions rather than the power of people over people. I believe laws should be as simple and clear as possible so that people buy into them, and self-enforce (with a little reffing). One idea that I have only recently heard about about is quite foundational in thinking about this, comes from 'A Theory of Justice' by John Rawls, which was published in 1971. The way society is structured needs to be such that you would agree to it from behind 'a veil of ignorance'.

Before you know which part you are going to play, you have to be happy that all the parts are reasonable. There is a lot of luck involved in life. We don't really believe in equality. We like the ability to do well. We like the ability to gain recognition. We like the ability to progress. All of these things are relative. We wouldn't be able to get the same sense of achievement if we were always in the same position as others. But the rules can't be such that they are structurally set against some of the players. Then your achievement holds about as much water as someone on a motorbike racing against some six year olds on foot. Well done champ.

What is very clear to me is that I wouldn't enjoy rolling the dice again. With 7.4 billion people on the planet, I got a pretty good deal. From behind a veil of ignorance, I would be sweating bullets if I was waiting to see where I was born and in what circumstances.

The question becomes, how do we build a world worth playing in. A world where we like the rules, but can lean into the emotion.
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