28 May 2013

Day 225: Equality and Disinformation - Equality and Human Rights – Part 4

Continuing from:
Day 219: Equality and Human Rights
Day 221: Are Humans Equal? – Equality and Human Rights – Part 2
Day 223: Equality of Opportunity: Introduction – Equality and Human Rights – Part 3

In the previous blog we looked at opposing views in relation to Equality of Opportunity.

The one view was ‘merit’ based – promoting the idea that equality of opportunity consists of each one’s success/achievement being dependent on skill, talent and effort which is determined by one’s genetic endowment. The other view was based more on a moral point of view, where within considering the natural and unnatural differences that exist between human beings, we have a duty to make all resources available to make sure that everyone has the same level of access to achieve their goals.

We mostly focused on the arguments coming from the liberal side that justified why we should not intervene in ensuring that everyone has the same level of access through providing adequate material conditions and supplies:

1. Equal starting point leads to unequal outcomes – so why bother
2. People are not a product of their environment
3. One’s genetic endowment as determining one’s position in society is beyond morality/justice

[Quoted from: Day 223: Equality of Opportunity: Introduction – Equality and Human Rights – Part 3
Within the following blogs, we will be putting these statements ‘under the microscope’ and dissect where these statements come from, their meanings, and implications.

Let us start with the first statement:

Equal starting point leads to unequal outcomes – so why bother

The problem with this statement rests within one’s use of various definitions for ‘equality’ and ‘inequality’. The first thing you learn when approaching the concept of Equality is that it is an ‘ambiguous’ and ‘fuzzy’ concept, and the subject of ‘much debate’.

From the get-go, there is no clear, precise, specific, comprehensive definition of Equality that everyone uses and has agreed upon. Consequently, there are different authors using different definitions of equality, and even singular authors assigning different meanings to equality and inequality within a single piece of text. The lack of consensus on what is meant when we refer to ‘Human Equality’ causes a lot of confusion and headaches when studying the subject matter.

Those who come from a more liberal point of view, tend to use the word Equality and Inequality, synonymously with ‘the same’ and ‘different’ respectively. Thus, whenever something is different – the argument is made that it is ‘unequal’. When something is ‘exactly the same’ – it is supposedly equal (Which explains where ludicrous statements such as ‘if you want to make people equal you will have to genetically disable the more able’ come from).

This leaves us on the one hand, with a very ‘black and white’ view on Equality -- Where two beings or more are equal only, if and when they are the same in every respect – and on the other hand a very broad view on that which is Unequal, where any two or more beings are ‘unequal’ the moment any form of ‘difference’ is exhibited. As we all know, there are many things that can be ‘different’ and thus it is easy to argue that something is ‘unequal’ when one places one’s definition of ‘Unequal’ equivalent to ‘Different’.

Those who are seen as more ‘egalitarian’, have a completely different view on the concept of Equality, where this is more closely tied to living standards different people enjoy – and does not pay attention to ‘the sameness’ of people as what ‘characteristics’ they display and how much these ‘are the same’.

When one initially starts studying/investigating the notion of Equality, one is faced with a ‘two-camp’ debate – where the one camp is ‘Pro-Equality’ and the other camp is ‘Anti-Equality’. This gives the impression that there is much disagreement on the topic of Equality in terms of whether we should pursue Equality as a value or not within society. This is a very deceptive in appearance, as there is not actually a conflict/debate on whether or not we should promote Equality or ‘leave things to be’ – as the only thing the ‘Anti-Egalitarians’ are saying is that they do not wish to be exactly the same. This view or wish that one does not want to be ‘the same’ in every respect, is actually quite compatible with the notion of Equality most people have that are Pro-Equality. The only reason why there is a fight/debate – is because each time someone says that they’d like to see ‘more equality’, is that the other side interprets this as ‘this person wants me to become more uniform’ – while this is not the case at all. All the other person is saying, is that it would be cool if we could get everyone to enjoy more or less the same standard of living. The same happens when the more liberal side makes a statement saying that they ‘do not wish to see more equality’, where the egalitarian side reacts to this in a negative manner, because they are merely responding from their definition of equality.

The impression that there is a definitive division among people with regards to the notion of Equality, is for the most part fictional. It only creates the appearance of conflict and division because there is no actual agreement on a singular definition of what Equality exactly entails and stands for. On the Equal Money platform, we often get remarks and comments of strong disagreement with particular in relation to particular statements, and once these comments have been ‘talked-out’ and clarified – we see that people mostly disagree and react to the Equal Money Statement simply because there are various ways to interpreting the concept of Equality, and thus the meaning of statements can vary greatly depending on who is reading it. This does not mean that they ‘really disagree’, but merely that they are disagreeing with the statement within using their particular definition of Equality.

So thanks to a long history of non-consensus on the word Equality – we have a tiny single point, a mere word-definition, being the reason why people are fighting and arguing for and against Equality and not coming to Solutions to the Benefit of Humanity. The fact that this single point of disagreement on the word definition of Equality as being the source of Division has never been pointed out or attempted to be cleared up – indicates that the maintenance of the Idea that there is Division on the subject is in fact an act of Disinformation. Keeping the Illusion alive that there is much conflict and debate on Equality, biases and manipulates people into believing that they have to ‘pick sides’ and ‘make up their mind’ on the subject of Equality. This is a False Dilemma.

Within the next blog we will resolve the statement ‘1. Equal starting point leads to unequal outcomes – so why bother’ within applying the approach of Equality as laid out at the end of Day 221: Are Humans Equal? - Equality and Human Rights – Part 2 .

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