+ A

Principles of justice

July 07,2017
In “Theory of Justice,” American philosopher John Rawls wrote, “The principles of justice are chosen behind a veil of ignorance.” President Moon Jae-in envisions employing the “veil of ignorance” in hiring to ensure bias does not interfere in the process of recruitment.
He made it a campaign promise, as a measure against socioeconomic inequalities, to provide young people equal footing in their careers regardless of their family and school backgrounds.

Moon’s administration unveiled a specific action plan. Under the new guideline, which would go into force starting this month, applicants to public-sector jobs no longer have to include background and family details, they will not be required to include photos of themselves so that interviewers will have no prior knowledge of applicants.

The merit of such a screening process is obvious. Fewer people would be disadvantaged based on the schools and neighborhoods they come from or what they look like. The obsession with elite schools could ease, helping to bring down the immense social cost of private tuition. Prejudice against certain schools, regions and ethnic groups could also be alleviated.

Quick administrative actions are not always bad. But the latest government order raises questions about whether it has been thoroughly examined. Cases in advanced countries suggest that blind recruitment can only worsen discrimination. Generalizing an experimental system too soon can bring about side effects. The government must not impose the guideline on the private sector.

Equality and justice are universal values. But overemphasis of these values should not get in the way of productivity. The government should take more time to investigate and fine-tune the policy so as not to undermine national and corporate competitiveness.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 6, Page 30