[MUSIC] Equality: An Introduction. Hi, welcome back. In other units, we've considered the role that Steve might play in promoting welfare, or happiness, or in helping us to bring about justice. In this unit, we'll consider the role the state might play in helping to secure or promote equality. And the way in which the State itself, may operate under some equality based constraints. As discussed in the section on Rawls, many political philosophers begin with some assumptions about the importance of seeing each person within a society as equals in some important sense. For example, in accordance with basic rule of law of values, there's some sense that light cases ought to be treated alike, treated equally under the law. So that if you violate the law, and I violate the law and we both do so in the exact same way, then we ought to be treated in the same way. There should not be differential, unequal treatment on the basis of your being richer or of a certain racial or religious background. So that's one important sense of equality that people think governs in the political realm. Similarly many think that we should all have an equal say in what political decisions are taken. Or at least in who will serve as our representatives if we are to choose a representative. So, there might be significant constraints on how the state can or should operate, constraints that are derived from considerations of equality. We can call concerns of this sort concerns about procedural equality. Equality with respect to the procedures by which governing, and legal and social decision-making happens. So within this family of norms, we might see norms of equal treatment under the law. Equal say in politics, and equal consideration of our interest in policy making. These all focus on how decisions are made, not on the substantive results of those decisions. And we might see them as operating more as constraints or limitations on how the state can appropriately act, rather than as substantive objectives or aims of policy making. So they're sort of constraints or rules that the state has to abide by rather than things it's trying to do in some sense. So there may also be a more positive role for the state to play, in terms of promoting economic or social equality. So the state may help by insuring that despite very unequal starting positions, we all have equal opportunities to develop our talents and abilities. To become educated. To find meaningful ways to spend our lives. To pursue a wide range of careers. And to become influential leaders in our communities. So we can call concerns of this sort concerns about equality of opportunity. There's an important distinction that can be drawn here, even when we're just thinking about equality of opportunity. So one version of equality of opportunity says that each person, we'll just refer to a person by the letter p. Each person p, should have an equal opportunity to achieve some good thing X for a generic kind of good thing. X might be a job or a political position, a meaningful life, an education and so on. Some good thing. So each person p has an equal opportunity to get X. But, where we hold as fixed, facts about what we might call p's natural or essential talents, abilities, work ethic and other properties that are generally useful for attaining the good thing, attaining x. So, we might call this equal opportunity to be taken seriously as an applicant or equal opportunity to apply. So it's not as if some of our applications are being thrown out just, because we belong to a certain racial group or come from a certain economic background. So this sense of equal opportunity might allow for quite a bit of actual inequality, if there are significant differences in what each of us have to help us obtain x. So in this sense, I have an equal opportunity to run the 100 meters in the next Olympics. Same opportunity as Usain Bolt, you might say. This raises the question of which of any of our talents, abilities, work ethics, and so on, should be treated as fixed in this way, as sort of a core part of ourself. So, should inherited wealth count? What about our parents' connections that might help us secure entrance into a better school or a better job? So we typically want to say no to these kinds of facts about our situation. They're in some sense not us, not a part of us. But then, why should inherited intelligence or athletic ability be treated as something that's essentially or naturally ours? These are, after all, just things that we happen to get from our parents. At least, that might be the correct view of how we acquire some of them. Or more generally, there's a question of why it's permissible for outcomes, whether we get x or not, to vary on the basis of natural or essential features of ours. Even, in cases where we deserve no credit for those features. So we were just lucky that we happened to have that feature, of being really fast, or really smart, or really attractive. Whatever it is that helps us get x, the good thing. Even something like effort, or work ethic, has been shown to be in a large part a function of our genes and early upbringing and education. Something for which we are arguably not responsible. So a very different sense of equality of opportunity focuses on something more like strict equality of chances. Or equal opportunity to attain, to attain X. So that rather than all positions being open to all in theory, and then selected on the basis of some qualifications or merit, which we don't all possess equally, all positions would be allocated by, say, lottery. So that each of us has a literally equal chance, say, of getting to go run the 100 meters for our country in the Olympics. This route has the advantage of not giving out rewards and good things on the basis of what might appear to be arbitrary features of us or features that we possess only through luck. But it runs into an equally difficult kind of problem. It appears to leave no room for principled qualifications based sorting of people into positions. This is bad from a social welfare point of view, if we think that people are differentially qualified for different kinds of important positions. So we might want to reduce some sources of unfairness or arbitrariness due to inequality in our different birth positions, but perhaps others might be appropriately left to remain. So maybe we shouldn't be sort of randomly selected into the job, or training to be doctors. So here a Rawlsian thought about inequality seems appropriate. We might leave those inequalities in place, only if they actually make the worst off in the society better off. So maybe we're all better off if we do allow qualifications based sorting even if those qualifications aren't anything that we happen to deserve. Another response is to decouple the attainment of these positions, the getting the good acts, and the material or welfare benefits that might come along with getting the position, with getting acts. So perhaps we do not have strict equality of chances with respect to becoming a doctor. So we don't just have a lottery to choose who gets to be a doctor. But we make it so that one does not have a much higher quality of life if one becomes a doctor rather than, say, a bus driver. So, we can get to a more radical, more interventionist role for the state, which would be to attempt to adjust for differences in talents, interests, effort and abilities so that we all end up in a more or less equal social or economic position regardless of our individual talents, ambitions or accomplishments. Or the social or employment positions we end up occupying. So we try to say look, your material resources and your actual welfare aren't going to be as intimately connected to what job you end up getting, because we acknowledge that what job you end up getting is going to be largely a matter of luck about what features you happen to possess. So we can call concerns of this sort, concerns about equality of material resources. Or some might think that the state should be concerned with equality of welfare, where we acknowledge that welfare can come apart in different ways from the opportunities we have, or even the material resources that we possess. So in the next several segments, we'll consider some of the arguments for and against equality as a constraint in this initial sense, or as an objective, as an aim, in all of these different senses that we've been discussing. One recurring theme in this discussion will be the difficulty of abiding by equality as a constraint in the political realm. Insuring political equality or equality of voice without considering equality as an objective. Or at least as a partial objective in the social and economic realm. So what we have in many modern democracies is something like formal political equality in some relatively thin sense. But with very unequal levels of actual political influence, with the wealthiest members of our societies exerting greatly disproportionate influence on the political process, and the political outcomes achieved by these processes.