Friday, June 24, 2011

Why equality is possible.

Lately the site has been getting down on Southerners, 'rednecks', creationists, and Americans in general. Perhaps this has been overplayed. I think that equality between human beings is a fact, even though as it's been said many times before everyone is different and has different abilities and inclinations. One explanation for the existence of equality that folks like Aristotle gave for is that in addition to the characteristics and talents that are particular to us, we all have a general, all purpose intelligence that appears to exist independently. Not everyone can do complex physics problems, but most people can navigate their work lives, their personal lives, and their family lives or participate in the community that they're a part of in an effective way.

In fact, folks don't fault others for not being able to do very complex work, but when core competencies fail they're looked at as socially dysfunctional or as having a failure of character, things looked on as uniquely serious. It's the possession of core competencies, including the sort of general intelligence needed to make rational decisions about the future of ones life, that make general equality possible and allow it to be translated into political democracy. If you can make rational decisions about your life, making rational decisions about the community that you live in is only a one step extension. The sort of issues that people face in their everyday lives are similar to the ones that communities as face as a whole. In fact, 'community' is only an extension or agglomeration of individual lives and experiences, although it has its own characteristics as a whole being, and so it stands to reason that everyday issues can also translate out into community issues.

Folks may believe strange things, like that the world is six thousand years old and that Noah's ark was not only real but carried two of every animal on earth, but the same folks who believe these things can most likely navigate life in effective ways. Of course, if they're literally nuts, they can't.But how these beliefs effect their practical political positions, and what those practical political positions are, is different from if that belief is or is not true in and of itself. It's not to say that belief or non-belief in strange things isn't an important factor, but just that the beliefs have to be measured against how they actually work in a person's general worldview, and how they effect their practical political positions.

The work of politics involves translating ideas and values expressed through general competence political into complex political positions. It also involves translation the other way, finding simple ways to express complex technical doctrines in general language, in an idiom that people can understand using their faculty of general competence. The latter does not necessarily mean dumbing down proposals so much as expressing them in a different way. And people are always welcome to explore the complexities if the general proposals are not detailed enough.

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