Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Equality and Discrimination

I think William Saletan is on to something:

But what strikes me at this point in the conversation is that equality and discrimination are intricately related. What we often call equality -- sorting creatures into biological groups and treating each group member as identical to the others, but different from members of other groups -- is also discriminatory. That's the paradox of "human rights."

Each of us mixes the two in our own way. Spain extends its "community of equals" to gorillas but not gibbons. Catholic bishops demand rights for zygotes but not chimps. PETA equates racial with interspecies equality. The NAACP discriminates between discriminations.

For my part, I've come to suspect that the first problem to deal with isn't inequality. It's indiscriminateness. Discrimination in the best sense means seeing each individual as she is. It takes effort. You have to look past the surface of things. It's easier to assign individuals to groups and judge them that way. But it's also, to the same extent, unfair. The unfairness arises not from inequality, but from how we organize it. Inequality, at the biological level, is mostly nature's fault. Indiscriminateness is ours.

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: