An original position behind a veil of ignorance. Behind this veil, you know nothing of yourself and your natural abilities, or your position in society. You know nothing of your sex, race, nationality, or individual tastes.
Behind this veil, all individuals are simply specified as rational, free, and morally equal beings.
You do know that in the "real world," however, there will be a wide variety in the natural distribution of natural assets and abilities, and that there will be differences of sex, race, and culture that will distinguish groups of people from each other.
The only fundamental principles of society will be fair, for you do not know whether you would suffer or benefit from the structure of any biased institutions. Indeed the safest principles will provide for the highest minimum standards of justice in the projected society.
This is a thought experiment ins which the parties select principles that will determine the basic structure of the society they will live in. This choice is made form behind a veil of ignorance, which would deprive participants of information about their particular characteristics: his or her ethnicity, social status, gender and, crucially, their conception of The Good. This forces participants to select principles impartially and rationally.
aka Liberty Principle
Very Kantian in that it provides for for basic and universal respect for persons as a minimum standard for all just institutions. But while all persons amy e morally equal, we also know that in the "real world" there are significant differences between individuals that under conditions of liberty will lead to social and economic inequalities.
States that every individual has an equal right to basic liberties, claiming "that certain rights and freedoms are more important r basic than others."
E.g., Freeman argues, Rawls believes that "personal property" - personal belongings, a home - constitutes a basic liberty, but an absolute right to unlimited private property is not. As basic liberties, they are inalienable: no government can amend, infringe or remove them from individuals.
Rawls articulates the Liberty Principle as the most extensive basic liberty compatible with similar liberty for others; later, he amended the principle, stating, "each person has an equal claim to a fully adequate scheme of equal basic rights and liberties."
According to the first principle, the liberty of individuals is restricted to that which is consistent with like liberty for all.
This principle would be selected by rational prudential agents in the original position because none would accept the possibility of their liberty being restricted in ways not required for others to enjoy similar liberty.