Be selfish. Be rational. Be vegan.

John Rawls, in A Theory of Justice, utilized a cutting edge thought experiment to derive a system of justice based upon the social contract.

Rawls’ neo-Kantian approach challenges the thinker to enter the state of nature, a hypothetical state in which society has not yet formed a cohesive set of laws, while adding several stipulations during the experiment. First, one shall be rational. Second, one shall be self-interested. Third, one shall establish the social contract behind a veil of ignorance. Moreover, this veil of ignorance shall preclude one from knowing any details about oneself, e.g. race, gender, mental acuity, physical impediments, etc.

Rawls then asks one to decide, based upon the precedent conditions; the fundamental distributive justice system government shall impose upon its citizens. In doing so, Rawls correctly surmises that self-interested, rational agents shall introduce certain safeguards to avoid personal disaster. For instance, as one doesn’t know, given the veil of ignorance, whether they will be handicapped, it would be prudent to set minimal resources toward the disabled lest they themselves be disabled.

In using the veil of ignorance in conjunction with a rational self-interested agent, Rawls orchestrates a system in which a just system of governance is derived without the encumbrance of predilection towards the self.

Utilizing the self-interested, rational agent behind the veil of ignorance is also useful in moral theory. For example, the imposition of slavery wouldn’t be a rational conclusion, as stepping out from the veil of ignorance one could find themselves a slave. Interestingly, this has a greater implication, specifically in the field of animal ethics. Unfortunately, Rawls failed to embrace the full scope of this own theory. As the scope of inquiry deals with self-interested parties, the field of potential agents must include all self-interested beings. Moreover, as sentience is a sufficient condition for interests, we must include all sentient beings in our pool of possible selves.

Take a moment to step behind the veil of ignorance for yourself. Keep in mind you are rational and self-interested. It is now your job to set up a moral framework, and a consequent system of governance, which allows safeguards and sufficient benefits for your potential self. Bear in mind, once your veil is lifted, you could be anything from a being of riches, to a being that is imprisoned and killed for their flesh.

Seemingly, the rational agent would choose a system that allows for the basest rights for all, without significantly infringing on society as a whole. A rational, self-interested agent will choose freedom from imprisonment and slaughter for all beings, simply to save oneself from the potential of the same.

In choosing the correct moral theory and subsequent tenets for your life, I implore you to be selfish, rational, and free from self-predilections. Embrace your moral law through a life devoid of the increased demand for imprisoned and slaughtered beings.

Be selfish. Be rational. Be vegan.