This experiment is influenced by John Rawls “A Theory of Justice” and a short story in Chuck Palahniuk’s “Haunted.” I plan to continue working on this, but sooner or later it is best to put the idea out there and see how it flows and receive feedback. It will also be good if I find out if I have accidentally stolen an idea without realising that I have stolen the idea. I am open to comments and suggestions regarding this as an open source peer review. I believe that academic writing and these experiments should be accessible and understood by everyone. So, avoiding convoluted, overly complicated writing is extremely important from my perspective. The rough draft of the experiment is as follows.
It is no secret that the world is a mixed bag of justice and injustices. The lifting of the “Veil of Ignorance” requires that one is able to recognise injustice based on the disparities between the most and least privileged within their society and nation, and again their place as it is compared with the rest of the world. With the poorest billion people in the world (approximately 1/8th to be generous) living on $1/day, and the majority of the global population living on less money than a poor person in a wealthy, global north nation; it begs the question of how justice would be seen under certain circumstances.
The thought experiment begins simply that everyone in the entire world suddenly becomes aware that reincarnation is how the afterlife works. People die, and their souls are transported to their individual version of eternal happiness. Whatever they wish to do is at their immediate call. A scientist could spend eternity exploring the cosmos and discover all of its secrets; they could read every book ever written, watch television, consume narcotics without fear of addiction or overdose, live in an eternal orgy, experience calmness and tranquillity, live without fear or pain. If they eventually choose to, they can allow their essence to dissolve into nothingness. There are no limitations to what one could dream about for as long as they wish.
At the same time, there is no punishment for one’s actions during life. Everyone goes to the same place when they die. Everyone is also aware that they will remain conscious of their current personhood and can choose to have painful memories removed and only the best ones kept. Life would continue for their current conscious self, and death would be nothing more than a memory of falling asleep. The entirety of the global population is fully aware that this is how the universe works. Everyone’s soul is transferred to bliss after death.
Everyone is also aware that their souls are recycled from the afterlife and inserted into a random newborn. There is no way of telling when your soul will be recycled or where it will get reborn. You have every chance of being reborn wealthy and happy, or the slave of a person who uses you as a broodmare for a terrorist organisation, or maybe even a Jewish person in Nazi Germany who will be loaded into a train and sent for forced labour and slaughter.
The cycle of rebirth can only be broken if every single person in the world is dead and no children can ever be born again. If everyone dies, everyone will remain in the state of bliss in the second paragraph.
Suppose that after this universal realisation occurs, everyone either voluntarily commits suicide or is rounded up and killed; their killers will also commit suicide when everyone is gone. Death does not cause pain; it will only seem like you fell asleep and awoke in bliss.
Now, say that enough people survive to begin the human population all over again. They do as humans do and breed. New children will be born; souls will be recycled, and as long as this continues, a soul cannot choose to fade into nothingness. Either everyone dies and stops the cycle, or the survivors continue the cycle.
Souls are randomly plucked from this place of bliss. You could be dead for a week or 10,000 years; there is no telling. The question is, how would you view justice in the world knowing that you stand an equal chance of living your next life in luxury or torment? Is the world a place with enough justice for you to agree to enter this lottery and hope for the best? The answer is one that each person considering this scenario must judge for themselves. If you choose to refrain from entering the lottery, then you will have admitted that the system is based on inequality due to individualised factors preventing you from taking the risk. Conversely, being willing to enter the lottery is neither an admission of equality or inequality, as you could just be a gambler; willing to roll the dice.