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what does "insofar as" mean in this sentence?

Does it mean "because"? Does it refer to although? Can we use "but" before "this"?

Although it is difficult to put ourselves behind the veil of ignorance, insofar as we are conditioned by the place we already occupy in society, this thought experiment will help lead us toward potential grounds for agreement.

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insofar as [condition exists]

just means "to the extent that" [condition exists]

Cf. inasmuch as

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  • I agree that is the normal meaning. But I doubt that the intended meaning is to affirm that we can put ourselves behind the veil of ignorance except to the extent that we are a tabula rasa. In that case the exception swallows the proposition whole. So I think the intended sense here is "because." If I am correct, it is careless writing. – Jeff Morrow Aug 1 '18 at 20:54
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    @JeffMorrow: I'm not defending the writing—the sentence feels a bit run-on to me—but insofar as works just fine there, and because would be decidedly worse. If you take the last two clauses apart, you get "Insofar as [i.e., to the extent that] we are conditioned by the place we already occupy in society, this thought experiment will help lead us toward potential grounds for agreement." In other words, the third clause is true to the extent that the second clause obtains. – Robusto Aug 1 '18 at 21:30
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"Insofar" in American English usually means "to the extent that" or "except as limited by."

But here the intended sense does seem to be "because." There may, however, be a nuance here that it implies "only because" or "at least because."

Personally, this strikes me as poor writing because its meaning is subject to several different interpretaions.

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Although it is difficult to put ourselves behind the veil of ignorance, insofar as we are conditioned by the place we already occupy in society, this thought experiment will help lead us toward potential grounds for agreement.

Although it is hard to pretend we are ignorant - as we are in some way conditioned by our place in society - so this thought experiment will help lead us to reasons that might help us find agreement.

That is a rewrite for explanation purposes, there is nothing wrong with the grammar in the original.

insofar as means to the extent that. As others have pointed out here. It can be paraphrased as: as we are in some way conditioned by.

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