chapter  1
20 Pages

Science, Literacy, Social Justice, and Equity: Listening to Our Better Angels

Albert Einstein achieved his first insights into the theory of relativity by creating a thought experiment, a mind trip where he imagined himself in a spaceship hurtling through the far reaches of the universe, chasing a beam of light (Friedman & Donley, 1985). Philosopher John Rawls used a somewhat similar device in his groundbreaking book, A Theory of Justice (1971). He asks us to imagine the sort of rules we might create for a system of justice in a new society where our position as a member of that society was not known. Rather, all positions-in terms of wealth, power, ability, health, and so on-would be established completely at random. If this were the case, certainly the rules we would create to govern this society would be as fair and as equitable as we could make them because we would not know how we would be positioned given a random assignment of traits. Like Einstein’s thought experiment, a change of perspective helps elucidate concepts of social justice.