IΣOnomia

Abstract
Equality is one of the great issues of our age, but few people stop to wonder at its being an issue in politics at all. Yet it is surprising that a concept which has its natural habitat in the mathematical sciences should have taken root in our thinking about how we should be governed. We do not naturally think of society in terms of group theory, or rings or fields, and have long been aware of the difficulties in establishing any over-arching social or political order. But we unthinkingly assume that we can meaningfully ask, and reliably tell, whether people are, or ought to be, equal to one another even while admitting how difficult it would be to say whether they were more or less than one another. Formal logic can help. Equality is an equivalence relation, that is to say one that is transitive, symmetric and reflexive. Equivalence classes pick out classes of people or things that are the same, or similar , in some respect or other. There are many such, and we need to specify in respect of what two things are or are not equivalent before we are saying, or asking, anything definite. I can be equivalent to you in respect of age, or height, or weight, and many equivalence classes— contemporaries, co-religionists, comrades—may be of great importance socially or politically. But equality is, in its original context, more than just an expression of sameness. It suggests also a possibility of being either more than or less than. I can be the same age as you, but if I were not, I should be either older than you, or younger. This is always the case in mathematics. The law of trichotomy holds, that if two things are not equal, then one is greater, in the relevant respect, than the other, and the difference can itself be measured. With human beings, however, there are rather few respects in which we can be properly measured. Age, height and weight apart, the ascription of most numerical measures is a dubious affair. At one time psychologists were confident that they could measure intelligence, and economists still purport to measure wealth, but the ascriptions they actually make do not seem to deserve the confidence called for..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index Translate to english
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 11,392
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Similar books and articles
Abraham Akkerman (1994). Sameness of Age Cohorts in the Mathematics of Population Growth. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 45 (2):679-691.
Michael S. Merry (2012). Equality, Self‐Respect and Voluntary Separation. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 15 (1):79-100.
David Schmidtz (2011). Respect for Everything. Ethics, Policy and Environment 14 (2):127 - 138.
Kenneth Baynes (0040). Democratic Equality and Respect. Theoria 53 (=117;User_Persona=false;ord=1234):1-25.
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

Added to index

2010-12-22

Total downloads

0

Recent downloads (6 months)

0

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.