>What is equality and who is equal?

>The concept of equality has changed over time. At first it would have been all members of a group, then a class and sex, then a sex and colour etc. Did you know that some of the first advocates of communism said women were possessions and should therefore be shared like everything else?

So what does equality mean to you today? Does it mean all people being completely equal in rights etc? Or do you think animals should be treated equally too? Maybe you’d go the opposite way and perhaps say that people should not be considered equal?

4 comments

  • >People aren't equal, as stated by Nietzche, but they all deserve an equal amount of basic rights.These rights are there to allow them to reach there potential without unfair encumbrances.

  • >That statement could be interpreted in many ways. What do you mean by basic rights? And why an equal amount rather than the same ones?I think in general I agree that although people will perform differently at different tasks, their basic worth should still be treated equally i.e. everyone's right to life should be equal under the law, and therefore so should their right to live it i.e. rights to pursue happiness and avoid pain. In social circumstances we should view people as completely equal (again in worth, not ability). As you rightly say this allows people to be who they really are and therefore reach their personal potential. But it is also the best way to achieve the greatest happiness for the greatest number.Where I would differ from you is by taking animals into perspective. We often say that humans are superior to animals because of our greater intelligence. But we do not say we are better than those with severe mental handicaps for the same reason. This is because we recognize that person's right to pursue happiness, just as we should recognize the rights of animals too. This doesn't mean everyone going vegetarian, because that would not be the best thing for animals. Those kept in farms at present would have to be killed, or let loose to suffer a slow death. Neither does it mean giving animals the same rights as given to human beings. But this is for the same reason again, because it's not what's best for them. We should not recognize animal rights to life and social equality; but we should recognize the rights of animals to pursue happiness and avoid pain. In practical terms this means simply keeping animals better, and tightening up the law to stop animal cruelty e.g. making it illegal to put animals through mental and physical pain in order to test something like a medical product or make-up.

  • >good point about the mentally handicapped, draws out what it is to be human and what should be afforded humans above animals.

  • >That point was actually meant to highlight how unfairly we treat animals, and that just as we avoid injuring and hindering the happiness of humans, we should also combatt the suffering we cause animals.

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