A Short Analysis of Equality

The fundamental political chasm in America is over the interpretation of the word “equality”, which is a word with nice connotations that everyone wants to claim. Unfortunately there are some terrible fallacies about it which are making political discussion fruitless.

(1) A reasonable syllogism is “equal capacity plus equal inclination plus equal opportunity leads to equal results”.

(2) Nobody questions equal capacity because they get Derbyshired, but equal inclination isn’t questioned (except by Thomas Sowell) even though it’s an even more dubious assumption

(3) Because of this, Democrats and liberals can pretend there is no conflict between equality of opportunity and equality of result

(4) Which they must do, and must back this pretense up with lies if necessary, because they know that

(5) most Americans, if forced to choose, consider equality of opportunity a more fundamental value than equality of result, while most liberals and democrats have the opposite order of priorities

(6) And this pretense has the bad consequence that people of certain groups (straight white males etc.) are unfairly blamed and punished for the inequality of result between their groups and other groups, because they might have an influence over opportunity which they don’t over capacity and inclination.

(7) Republicans need to make points 1-6 [though they should attack the equal inclination assumption in preference to the equal capacity assumption] in order to frame the issue as a “tragic choice” between sacred values, instead of a “taboo choice” between a sacred value (“equality” unclarified) and a secular value. Here I am using the language of the cognitive scientist Philip Tetlock, who explains stuff like this


and here.


About Polymath

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2 Responses to A Short Analysis of Equality

  1. Polymath says:

    http://adammcnestrie.wordpress.com/2008/06/27/could-social-mobility-destroy-britain-as-we-know-it/ The discussion there indicates I should modify my argument.
    I originally said that equality of capacity and equality of inclination need to be assumed without evidence in order to make equality of opportunity and equality of result correspond. 
    What this link adds is that equality of opportunity is unobtainable anyway and striving for it can destroy a society, which raises the stakes of being ignorant about the other equalities.

  2. elviajador says:

    Excellent to see your back!

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