Is age discrimination always wrong? Or it is fair to treat different ages differently? How do we take people's age into account without being ageist? These are the questions we’re asking this week, in an episode called “Should All Ages Be Equal?”
What Is It
Age determines a lot about your position in society—what activities you can do, what benefits you can access, and what rights and responsibilities you have. While it seems appropriate to treat people at different stages of life differently, we also consider certain kinds of unequal treatment unjust. So when should we treat people of different ages differently? And when does it become ageism or age discrimination? When does a disadvantage for an age group turn into injustice against a generation? Josh and Ray act their age with Juliana Bidadanure from Stanford University, author of Justice Across Ages: Treating Young and Old as Equals.
Should society treat everyone the same way? Is it possible to prevent age discrimination while still taking age into account? While Josh believes that restrictions for purchasing alcohol and child labor laws are important, he’s a little less sure about the importance of age for voting restrictions and equal pay. In contrast, Ray thinks the rules we have now may be arbitrary but apply equally to everyone.
The hosts welcome Juliana Bidananure, Professor of Philosophy and Political Science at Stanford University, to the show. Her research is driven by the question of why some inequalities between age groups are acceptable, while others are not. Ray asks why the existing system needs to be changed at all, to which Juliana responds that we should scrutinize our current intuitions and differential treatments more carefully in order to show equal concern for all stages of life. Josh brings up the Brexit vote and the possibility of lowering the voting age, which prompts Juliana to discuss the importance of having young adults in parliaments. She thinks that political representatives should look like the citizens they represent, and younger age groups in particular need a larger space to voice their concerns.
In the last segment of the show, Josh, Ray, and Juliana discuss the implications of maximum voting ages and mandatory retirement ages. Juliana worries about inequalities that increase generational inequality, and she explains why she would create a basic income for all ages if she had the power to create a society that is fair for all generations. Since future generations will have new challenges to overcome, Juliana believes we should want them to be better off and not suffer from the same difficulties that previous generations had.
- Roving Philosophical Report (Seek to 3:47) → Holly J. McDede investigates why some people are campaigning to lower the voting age.
- Sixty-Second Philosopher (Seek to 45:55) → Ian Shoales reminisces about coming of age and considers how the Internet combats ageism.