Programming Behind the Veil of Ignorance

Posted on Nov 26, 2021

The idea of a “veil of ignorance” was a thought experiment coined by the philosopher John Rawls.

He proposes that if you were to design a society without knowing your place within it (you are behind a “veil of ignorance”) you would design a society that was more impartial and just. This is because it is rational, in this scenario, to ensure that wherever you land in this society you won’t be much worse off than anyone else.

I think this can also be applied to the world of programming. If you were going to be randomly assigned any codebase in the world and you had to work on it, what properties would you want it have? Good documentation? A thorough test-suite? A clean commit history?

Now think of your current project at work - does it have those properties?