What Can Science Tell Us About Equality?

Facts Change What Equality Means

Brandon Long
Oct 14, 2019 · 4 min read

Into the Gap

Does science have anything to say about equality? Some have disputed a direct relationship between empirical fact and what we ought to do; Hume pointed this out as the is — ought problem. For instance, if we discovered a way to increase everyone’s happiness, the discovery alone is not sufficient to suggest we should do it. But this is not to be mistaken with the argument that Hume DIDN’T propose, that empirical facts have nothing to do with what we ought to do, we just have to support our facts with reason.

Is Informs Ought

Whether or not being poor has adverse effects and whether or not the poor can choose otherwise has serious consequences for how we look at welfare. How could one hope to mount an argument for welfare if there was no empirical proof that being poor caused some negative effect? Finding evidence that being poor causes less wise economic decisions has implications — none of which are that we ought to hold the poor more responsible for their poverty in light of this fact. Finding evidence that someone has no causal relationship with their position naturally leads us to not hold that person responsible for their position. For instance, we don’t condemn our friend at dinner when he accidentally — having no intentional causal role — knocks over a ketchup bottle on our new shirt. Even our hunter gatherer ancestors didn’t punish accidents, they punished to deter. If the narrative that the poor are stuck in a cyclical loop of poverty is true, we ought to lend a hand.

Slightly Educated

Today’s relevant science, politics, philosophy, and…

Brandon Long

Written by

Writes about science, politics, philosophy, and the spaces that separates us as as species — and occasionally in story form.

Slightly Educated

Today’s relevant science, politics, philosophy, and entertainment through the narrow and flawed senses of a pessimisstic primate and recent B.S. graduate.

Brandon Long

Written by

Writes about science, politics, philosophy, and the spaces that separates us as as species — and occasionally in story form.

Slightly Educated

Today’s relevant science, politics, philosophy, and entertainment through the narrow and flawed senses of a pessimisstic primate and recent B.S. graduate.

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