The totality of our so-called knowledge or beliefs, from the most casual matters of geography and history to the profoundest laws on atomic physics, or even pure mathematics and logic, is a man-made fabric, which impinges on experience only along the edges . . . A conflict with experience on the periphery occasions re-adjustments in the interior of the field . . . but the total field is so undetermined by its boundary conditions, experience, that there is much latitude of choice as to what statements to re-evaluate in the light of any single contrary experience (From a Logical Point of View, p.42).

This is a statement about the tentative nature of our relationship to reality. It is a view about the nature of facts rather than of values. But in moral terms, the implications are important. It suggests that the world is “pre-positioned” around us in a “man-made fabric,” yet remains difficult for us to define since we respond only sluggishly to the new facts of experience. To this extent, it is a comforting message to practicing BAR members and politicians – comforting to the point of inducing complacency.

It is a purely hypothetical construct to ease under-standing. The central idea is that in this “original position” everybody operates behind a “veil of ignorance” about his place in society, natural abilities, intelligence, strength, or moral disposition. It is behind this “veil” that principles of justice would be elaborated.

The collision of theory with that of reality is instantaneous and painful.


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