Are We Really All Equals?

25 April 2018

Most of us hold the deep moral commitment that we are all equal in some basic way. All humans are worthy of equal (moral) concern, respect, and dignity.

Jeremy Waldron, a famous NYU philosopher, defends this principle of basic equality in his new book. This review of the book by the fabulous Amia Srinivasan challenges some of his core arguments in this entertaining and engaging article.

Is a commitment to basic equality enough to ground meaningful principles of justice? If we were looking for some quality possessed by all humans to justify basic equality, how can we avoid excluding the disabled from our realm of moral concern? What would justify excluding animals as well?

It's a long but spectacular read:

Comments (3)

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Wednesday, April 25, 2018 -- 1:48 PM

Everyone who considers

Everyone who considers himself a defender of good probably believes in basic human equality. (Now that is sticking my neck out...). And many people have taken the time to write something about this sort of thing, if only in a personal journal or memoir. I like to share things I have read, particularly when they are philosophically pertinent to ideals I may hold dear. John Searle wrote a little book in 2010 (Oxford Press) called Making the Social World. If anyone is interested, chapter 8 of that book is both readable and pertinent. It is entitled simply: HUMAN RIGHTS. Searle's field is the philosophy of mind and language. He teaches (taught?) at UC Berkeley.

MJA's picture


Wednesday, April 25, 2018 -- 8:00 PM

Equal is the single absolute!

Equal is the single absolute!

Science is falling deeper down the rabbit hole or abyss of measured uncertainty. Religious faiths continue grasping for anything true of gods and demons, angels and devils, mortals and immortals. Governments increase their inequitable powers with the destruction of theirs and others peoples, as well as land, water and air degradation. And Justice goes on its merry blind way practicing fairness as the best it can do, I have seen another Way.

Justice need only remove her blindfold, hello!, and throw away that scale of human construct to see the absolute of everything includes herself. I have seen the promised land and cannot take you there, because we already are there, all we need to do is see it and be it, be One.

Imagine all the people living life as One.

Science fell off the boat in Copenhagen so many years ago, and has yet to make it to shore. Einstein was close but no cigar.

And governments, what happen to the Declaration of Independence? Are we governed or free? Can we be both at the same time?

Jefferson knew the way. Lincoln, Gandhi, King and so many others, millions, billions, have fought and died for it, for equality, and the fights goes on today. What is the fight all about? What is truth? Equality, justice, independence, freedom, they are the solution, they or we are all One or the same.

The single absolute is One.

The Eastern masters believed the truth could not be spoken. But in fact it can be, it simply for many or most cannot be heard. imagine that!

Can One teach the blind to see? That is the question my dear Shakespeare.

Philosophy, the love of truth can and will lead the way One day, I am certain. Equal has been found and now it must be practiced and shared.

Justice is equal, Justice is One.

Be One,


Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Sunday, April 29, 2018 -- 2:39 PM

Wow. What a great read.

Wow. What a great read. Thanks so much for pointing this out.

No we are not equal. That is fact.

The inequality is what makes everything interesting.

There is little choice in life and that is disheartening, but there is choice... I think.

I choose to act as if every human is equal. I choose to respect non humans with regard to their ability to suffer. I choose to limit suffering whenever I am able.

I clearly have much more to think about ...

Thanks again for this...