Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Treated as equals, but not equally

Came across the following concept in an article that I was reading on the relation between morals and etiquette.
According to Ronald Dworkin, the duty to treat people as equals is not the duty to treat them equally.
(Ronald Dworkin, ‘‘DeFunis v. Sweatt,’’ in Equality and Preferential Treatment, ed. Marshall Cohen et al. [Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1977], pp. 67– 68).

At first could not make any sense of it! Then after some mind-wrestling, especially in the context of what I was reading, it occurred to me that perhaps it is to mean that each person is due the respect he or she deserves as a human being.  The other is another human being just as I am.  Equal in that respect.  However, I cannot treat everyone the same way.  I can stand at the entrance to a hall and greet and welcome the guests, each and everyone, with the same courtesy and politeness; nonetheless I cannot accommodate everyone on the front row of the hall! Some will have to occupy the last chairs and some the front seats, even without me allotting the seats.

There could very well a more meaningful understanding of this notion.

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