Friday, July 12, 2013

Stratford Caldecott on political correctness

Stratford Caldecott on political correctness at the Imaginative Conservative:
Equality seems to mean treating people as if they were the same. But this is not justice. Justice is giving people their due. Why insist on equality at the expense of difference and diversity? Insisting on equality in that sense is unjust, because it is the differences between people that determine what they may be due. A man who is well fed is not due a food handout, and a blind man is not due an eye-test on the NHS. A child with one leg is not expected or entitled to run in the hundred-yard sprint on Sports Day. The only way in which all human beings are equal is in being human; but the “rights” our humanity implies will depend on what we understand it to amount to (not to mention when it begins and ends)—in other words, it depends on the truth about human beings.
Liberty or Freedom is similarly useless without truth. Popularly understood as the power to choose, freedom makes sense only when linked to the truth about those choices. A man going into a supermarket wearing a blindfold has no real power to choose. He still does not if, when he takes off the blindfold, the packaging on the products is full of lies. Nor does he, if the products are essentially all the same. Choice has to be real choice, in a real world, between realities that essentially differ. Even more importantly, he is not free if he is conditioned or habituated to choose in a certain way. In the case of moral choices, the principle is the same. Truth matters. In order to be truly free we need to know which options are morally good or not, and we need to have the power (the virtue) to choose the good over the evil.
Read the rest here.


Singring said...

'Equality seems to mean treating people as if they were the same.'

It's hard to take an essay seriously when it starts with a complete misunderstanding of what it is trying to address.

When we speak of 'wage equality', for example, it is rather obvious that we don't mean that every get paid the same amount, as if it were the same work people are getting paid for.

No, we mean that *if* two people are doing the same work, they should be paid equal amounts of money for it.

I really have to wonder if this kind of linguistic nonsense is intentional (setting up a straw man) or due to sheer ignorance.

David said...

Singring, isn't that kind of exactly what he said?

"Justice is giving people their due."

Singring said...

'Singring, isn't that kind of exactly what he said? '

I don't think it is. But maybe I chose a poor example to make my point.

Equality, as understood by those who would generally adhere to 'political correctness', does not at all mean that we should be treating everyone as if they were the same - in fact quite the opposite.

We should be treating people in a way that means, ideally, that the outcomes (or at least potential outcomes) are the same for everyone.

For example, policies that promote women in the workplace or affirmative action clearly require us to treat different people differently, precisely because the fact that they are different (or are perceived as different by society) means they have less chance of an ideal outcome (e.g. equal wages for equal work) than others.

So Caldecott is setting up a straw man. He is trying to paint the view of those who support 'political correctness' (and I assume he means progressives and especially atheists/humanists here, absed on his allusions to 'modern thinkers') as the view that is currently held more frequently by Christian conservatives and especially libertarians.

Just look at what the Republicans are trying to do to the SNAP program at the moment. Is that justice as described by Caldecott?

Libertarians literally believe that everyone should be treated as if they were the same - a completely free market in every sense of the word.

So with that in mind, I really have a hard time taking this essay seriously, even though I agree with what it says about justice.

It's just directed at a straw man, at least in my opinion.

KyCobb said...


I read the rest of his article. I would suggest that the way to find out if ssm helps adopted children is to allow it. I doubt it could be less harmful than making those children grow up without parents.

KyCobb said...

Should've said more harmful