Equality, Fairness and Me

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / Bialasiewicz

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / Bialasiewicz

I recently read an article on equality and fairness titled, surprisingly, People Don’t Actually Want Equality, by Paul Bloom published October 22, 2015, in the Atlantic. This seems like an heretical statement in the home of the brave and the land of the free where we grew up on a diet of equal rights. Of course, equality will never happen. Genes, heritage, place of birth, physical and mental disabilities and other things we do not control frustrate true equality.

The evidence in the article suggests we do not even really want equality. Studies show that “younger children actually have an anti-equality bias” and prefer distributions where they get a relative advantage.” One for you, two for me, sits well with the one who gets two. Small children and primates will complain bitterly if they get less, but are perfectly satisfied to receive more.

The author goes on to summarize: “What we see from studies of children and studies of small-scale societies is an early-emerging desire for fairness, and a particularly strong motivation not to get less than anyone else. But we don’t find a smidgen of evidence that humans or any other species naturally value equality for its sake.”

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