Should All Ages Be Equal?

Sunday, November 28, 2021

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.


Comments (4)

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Saturday, October 23, 2021 -- 3:14 PM

The graphic is interesting..

The graphic is interesting...a parallel to that used for representation of evolution itself. However, any notion of equality within the ages of man fails to establish a point. If, indeed, there was one to begin with. Which I doubt. See, ' child is father to the man' is merely quaint metaphor. At best. Worn-out aphorism, at best. 'Equal' is slippery. Equal, compared with what/whom? You just can't play it this way. Children are born, grow,live, grow old and die. This does not happen in reverse. Nor, should it.
What is really being asked here? Is this just an allegory? It is not about savant or prodigy, I think: exception is ANOTHER rule....though we do not dream it that way. As a practical matter, equal is that which has been earned. Not inherited. Or bestowed...

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Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Sunday, October 24, 2021 -- 1:54 PM

Juliana's book is too

Juliana's book is too expensive for me (over a hundred dollars – cheaper on Kobo – but still… ouch.) Maybe PT could finagle a discount for PT subscribers? (Just saying.) I did buy Amia Srinivasan's book only to have the show canceled. Here is the free abstract on Juliana's book. She has several other papers out as well. I can post those public abstracts if anyone can't find them.

Justice Across Ages: Treating Young and Old as Equals

Juliana Uhuru Bidadanure
Abstract contained in quotes ==> “Age structures our lives... including families, workplaces, and schools.”.

“Age structures our lives and societies. It shapes social institutions, roles, and relationships, as well as how we assign obligations and entitlements within them. Each life-stage also brings its characteristic opportunities and vulnerabilities, which spawn multidimensional inequalities between young and old. How should we respond to these age-related inequalities? Are they unfair in the same way gender or racial inequalities are? Or is there something distinctive about age that mitigates ethical concern?

Justice Across Ages addresses these and related questions, offering an ambitious theory of justice between age groups. Written at the intersection of philosophy and public policy, the book sets forth ethical principles to guide a fair distribution of goods like jobs, healthcare, income, and political power among persons at different stages of their life. At a time where young people are starkly underrepresented in legislatures and subject to disproportionally high unemployment rates, the book moves from foundational theory to the specific policy reforms needed today.

If we are ever to live in a society where people are treated as equals, the book argues, we must pay vigilant attention to how age membership can alter our social standing. We should regard with suspicion commonplace forms of age-based social hierarchy, such as the political marginalization of teenagers and young adults, the infantilization of young adults and older citizens, and the spatial segregation of elderly persons. This position carries important implications for how we should think about the political and moral value of equality, design our social and political institutions, and conduct ourselves in a range of contexts including families, workplaces, and schools..”

The key idea is inter and intragenerational justice and equality, and age rights. That society is not up to science is probably always going to be true. Bidadanure has written on Universal Basic Income which might also play into the discussion. Hopefully, this can start some conversation.

I can tell you; this book seems centered on the younger generations. The older workers - not infantilized but indentured, without moral or economic luck, need liberation and distributive justice as well. I have an Amazon delivery person who is 20 years older than me, and I am not young.

I'm also interested in the science of human development. Children and the elderly need care and special rights. Juliana, I'm sure, comprehends all this.

Hit the link below for separate abstracts for each chapter from the table of contents.

Table of Contents

Part One
1. Equality over Time
2. Lifespan Prudence
3. Relational Equality Between Age Groups
4. Treating Young and Old as Equals
Part Two
5. Age, Jobs, and Inequalities
6. Basic Income versus Basic Capital: A Temporal Perspective
7. Youth-ing Politics: A Defence of Youth Quotas in Parliaments

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Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Sunday, October 31, 2021 -- 5:42 AM

Equality, in many respects

Equality, in many respects and under many circumstances, is an experiential passage. We gain it through our own efforts. Therefore, it does not attach to a particular age at a given time. Savants and prodigies are exceptional people whose powers of thought and reason outstrip age: they know;can intuit and infer, far more than 'normal' people. These talents appear to be evolving in humans: it appears we have greater numbers of children excelling in school than were obvious fifty or more years ago. Can it be that such individuals are indicators of an exponential aspect of evolution? I am pretty sure others are at least toying with such a notion.
Whatever the case, and, however things proceed, the idea of equality seems misplaced. To me. It just does not seem to square with emergent facts. And those are still in their infancy, so to speak.

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Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Sunday, November 14, 2021 -- 10:18 PM

Equality is a social contract

Equality is a social contract we make, and I'm not sure to whom or with whom. I'm pretty sure it is made at birth and paid with your life on your death bed. It surely isn't earned. Equality is a right.

There are cohorts of young people today who are questioning the decisions of our generation (the boomers) while sticking their noses on their phones. There has never been a better time to be just and equal. The soaring price of housing and childcare make past injustice real today. It is about time to consider age inequality.

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