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Debates over the meaning of all men are created equal...


"Debates over the meaning of all men are created equal and equality, then, are not about whether people possess in equal measure the same talents, potentials, etc. They are about the criteria employed and the particular characteristics of persons that are signaled out as the bases for judging equality. Egalitarianism does not strive to eliminate the distinctions among people. It is not a drive for "sameness" or homogeneity. It need not result in what Plato sarcastically prophesied as the elimination of reasonable distinctions between "better" and "worse." It does not suggest universal equality of endowments. Rather, egalitarianism strives to eradicate those norms calling for differential treatment of men which are arbitrary, purposeless, and unconscionable.


Plato recognized, as we Americans are now discovering, that abolition of unconscionable distinctions is no easy task. Indeed, each man has his own criteria as to what is unreasonable and purposeless. Thus, the meaning of the term equality is only part of the problem. Specifying, justifying, and ordering criteria for differential or equal treatment pose numerous other difficulties. Furthermore, those who benefit from arbitrary distinctions are often quite loathe to see them dissolve."


(p7, Italics in original.)


Tesconi & Hurwitz, 1974

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