If someone reads Loury’s book and thinks that there is doubt about his answer to the “veil of ignorance” question, so be it. But Loury lists out a range of implications from what he thinks are the obvious answers to the Rawls’ question. Loury notes (2008, p. 32-33):
I expect that we would still pick some set of punishment institutions to contain bad behavior and protect society. But wouldn’t we pick arrangements that respected the humanity of each individual and of those they are connected to through bonds of social psychic affiliations? If any one of us had a real chance of being one of those faces looking up from the bottom of the well — of being the least among us — then how would we talk publicly about those who break our laws? … . What weight would we give to various elements in the deterrence-retribution-incapacitation-rehabilitation calculus, if we thought that calculus could end up being applied to our own children or to us? How would we apportion blame and affix responsibility for the cultural and social pathologies evident in some quarters of our society if we ourselves might well have been born into the social margins where such pathology flourishes? [Emphasis added.]
Either the whole Rawls discussion is a meaningless sideline or not. If it means something and Loury has a conclusion, which he certainly seems to, here are Loury’s own implications for that conclusion. If blame should be apportioned based on “cultural and social pathologies,” doesn’t that mean that blacks have on average greater offsets than whites and less blame for the same crime? That whites have greater “responsibility” for the crimes that they commit? If so, doesn’t that imply that blacks should face less of a penalty? And the poorest blacks at the very least.
My previous post noted that “Loury’s book suggests that a Rawlsean approach implies … .” Indeed, I think that the word “suggests” is quite mild. Yet, if Loury means something else besides how blame and responsibility and thus punishment should be apportioned between the races, I would be interested in knowing what he means. Are there any actual implications that Loury gets out of the “veil of ignorance” discussion?
Finally, I would be most interested in Loury’s response to the policy solutions that I discussed.