John Harsanyi and John Rawls both used the veil of ignorance thought experiment to study the problem of choosing between alternative social arrangements. With his ‘impartial observer theorem’, Harsanyi tried to show that the veil of ignorance argument leads inevitably to utilitarianism, an argument criticized by Sen, Weymark and others. A quite different use of the veil-of-ignorance concept is found in evolutionary biology. In the cell-division process called meiosis, in which sexually reproducing organisms produce gametes, the chromosome number is halved; when meiosis is fair, each gene has only a fifty percent chance of making it into any gamete. This creates a Mendelian veil of ignorance, which has the effect of aligning the interests of all the genes in an organism. This paper shows how Harsanyi's version of the veil-of-ignorance argument can shed light on Mendelian genetics. There turns out to be an intriguing biological analogue of the impartial observer theorem that is immune from the Sen/Weymark objections to Harsanyi's original.