2005 August 26 Friday
Charles Murray: The Inequality Taboo

Charles Murray revisits the evidence for group average differences in ability with a highly recommended essay in Commentary. I urge you all to go read it. (same article here)

The Orwellian disinformation about innate group differences is not wholly the media’s fault. Many academics who are familiar with the state of knowledge are afraid to go on the record. Talking publicly can dry up research funding for senior professors and can cost assistant professors their jobs. But while the public’s misconception is understandable, it is also getting in the way of clear thinking about American social policy.

Good social policy can be based on premises that have nothing to do with scientific truth. The premise that is supposed to undergird all of our social policy, the founders’ assertion of an unalienable right to liberty, is not a falsifiable hypothesis. But specific policies based on premises that conflict with scientific truths about human beings tend not to work. Often they do harm.

One such premise is that the distribution of innate abilities and propensities is the same across different groups. The statistical tests for uncovering job discrimination assume that men are not innately different from women, blacks from whites, older people from younger people, homosexuals from heterosexuals, Latinos from Anglos, in ways that can legitimately affect employment decisions. Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 assumes that women are no different from men in their attraction to sports. Affirmative action in all its forms assumes there are no innate differences between any of the groups it seeks to help and everyone else. The assumption of no innate differences among groups suffuses American social policy. That assumption is wrong.

When the outcomes that these policies are supposed to produce fail to occur, with one group falling short, the fault for the discrepancy has been assigned to society. It continues to be assumed that better programs, better regulations, or the right court decisions can make the differences go away. That assumption is also wrong.

Hence this essay. Most of the following discussion describes reasons for believing that some group differences are intractable. I shift from “innate” to “intractable” to acknowledge how complex is the interaction of genes, their expression in behavior, and the environment. “Intractable” means that, whatever the precise partitioning of causation may be (we seldom know), policy interventions can only tweak the difference at the margins.

The inequality taboo harms American society in a number of ways. It is used to justify harmful immigration policies, labor laws that persecute perfectly fair employers, college admissions polices that discriminate against the more talented, medical school admissions policies that let in less talented and hence more dangerous future doctors, and other policies that each inflict a variety of forms of damage on individuals and society as a whole. The inequality taboo undermines law enforcement efforts and leads to unfair accusations of racism against cops. This leads to increased numbers of criminals on the streets and more suffering and death of victims of crime. The people who defend this taboo and attack those who violate the taboo have a lot to answer for.

Ultimately this taboo will fall to advances in DNA sequencing technology. The evidence from twins studies, transracial adoption studies (and also see here), brain scan studies correlated with IQ, and the wider body of research results from psychometric research already make clear what massive DNA comparisons between humans will find once DNA sequencing costs drop by orders of magnitude. I'm looking forward to the death of the taboo and honest discussions in the political mainstream of social problems in America.

Update: In the comments of a debate of the left-leaning TPM Cafe blog Jason Malloy refutes Matthew Yglesias's lame attempt to dismiss the results of psychometric research. If you go up to my link above to trans-racial adoption studies and look at the graph of income of Korean adoptees and native children of parents in the same families you'll see the Socio-Economic Status (SES) of families argument touted on the Left for why some are more successful does not fit with the evidence. Control for genetics and SES effects become so extremely small that even I'm amazed by how little SES matters.

The argument for identical average IQ across races is the biggest and most important bright shining lie of our era. From it flows so many damaging policies. Even in foreign affairs this bright shining lie provides an essential support for the ridiculous argument that the Middle Eastern countries can transform into Jeffersonian democracies. Middle Eastern countries face a large cognitive obstacle on the road to liberal democracy. In foreign policy the denial of the truth is getting thousands of American soldiers killed and maimed, costing the public purse hundreds of billions of dollars, and damaging US security.

Update II: See TangoMan's post "The Adoption Controversy, Part Two" for a detailed treatment of the study on the trans-racial adoption of Korean babies I link to above.

Update III: Also see Jason Malloy's post on trans-racial adoption and the success of Asians. Note that the environmental factors that favor better school performance are found more often in white than Asian homes in the US. So much for cultural stereotypes as explanations of Asian success. It is hard to square the standard Leftist "white male racism is holding back non-whites in America" diatribe with the success of many Asian ethnic groups in the US of A.

Aside: I use the term "Asian" reluctantly. The genetic distance between various "Asian" ethnies is as great as the distance between Europeans and some Asian groups. Asia is a very big place. The lumping together of so many groups under the "Asian brand" hides important genetic and cultural differences.

Update III: Also see Steves Sailer's excellent observations on Murray's article.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 August 26 12:20 PM  Human Nature


Comments
Mark said at August 26, 2005 4:56 PM:

The taboo will not fall when the elites come from a stock of Dr. Zaius clones. To even read such an essay is tantamount to visiting the forbidden zone.

Martin Bauer said at August 27, 2005 2:00 AM:

In the face of Chicago Boys neoliberal economics being pushed and globalized by social power (i.e. money) elites, I see quite another taboo I'd like to hear if the author is even aware of. The one saying efficiency and utility are sole and sufficient guides in social organization and any idea of equality (and that touches the very foundations of democracy) must therefore be an outdated ideological drag.
When the Wall Street and corporate power elites of the new world order will eventually have established their 2/3-society (saying that two thirds of population will be simply unneeded, "trash", to call it frankly) I have no doubt they will soon make out in their "honest discussions" among knowledge elites why natural endowment of talents surely warrants some people are smothered with riches in their sleep while others toil and yet stay miserable. Perhaps they will even discuss if it's not more humane a treatment for those unfit to survive if they are gassed instead of just let starve.

Yet one thing they will certainly not make out. How did it come to that taboo blinding us to the wisdom of the underlying principles of FDR's New Deal and how acutely up-to-date they are? Don't let the powerful get too organized. They will steal you your thoughts and ideals, not just your pockets. But most grievous, they will weaken the stamina of a christian nation by calling the Gospel ethics a relic (mutely of course, while openly claiming to be out on a crusade!). There once was a grand German statesman in mid-century erecting the most stunning dreams on ideas of natural endowment and social toughness. As we all know, he gloriously foundered. And so will his more knowledgeable congenials of nowadays.

Perhaps I have reacted in overharsh manner. I'm sorry in that case. Yet you have got to resist while danger is still looming.

Take care, not offense!

Martin Bauer said at August 27, 2005 3:44 AM:

Needless to say, by the way, I did not take materially on Mr. Murray's research or presentment, which seems soundly enough in my (unprofessional) eyes. Neither do I criticize any inferences he actively makes.
Those having troubled to understand what Orwell (or e.g. Heinar Kipphardt: In der Sache J. Robert Oppenheimer) wanted us to see will certainly know why I spoke out pertinently nevertheless.

seelow heights said at August 27, 2005 5:08 AM:

"But most grievous, they will weaken the stamina of a christian nation by calling the Gospel ethics a relic (mutely of course, while openly claiming to be out on a crusade!)."
Don't you know that it is one of the great taboos of the Multicult regime to refer to the US as a "christian nation"?(even with a small"c")

Martin Bauer said at August 27, 2005 5:49 AM:

Thank you,
yes, I know, which is exactly why I would like to see genuine multicult and genuine social darwinist (to which I do not, as yet, count Mr. Murray) thought been tackled likewise. Call me a dreamer, yes I am. There was another man, far greater than I, who repeatedly called out his famous dream, until he eventually paid for it. And it was not for the worst, many Americans had listened to him.

Rick Darby said at August 27, 2005 7:27 AM:

Mr. Bauer:

I'm not sure I fully follow your thoughts expressed here, but apparently you are suggesting that any recognition of "intractable" differences in different populations will lead to a society in which an elite of Uebermenschen lords it over an underclass branded as intellectual untouchables.

But neither Charles Murray nor Randall Parker suggests any such thing. Both go no farther than urging that we recognize a fact. One of my problems with Murray (although I should probably refrain from saying so until I have read his Commentary piece) is that he seems to be somewhat fuzzy about answering the question, "Okay, you've proven that there are average group differences [which does not imply any moral superiority or inferiority]; now what?"

Randall is clearer. He is not arguing for a caste society. He simply points out that social policies based on fundamentally incorrect assumptions have bad consequences. The law cannot change what Murray calls "intractible" differences. It can only try to disguise them by insisting that different outcomes must be caused by discrimination, racism, sexism, etc.; and then compensating for these alleged inequities by writing into law favoritism for some groups.

But it should be obvious to anyone not brainwashed by leftist pseudo-egalitarian indoctrination that you can't legally require favoritism for some people without at the same time forcibly disadvantaging others. The standard counterargument is that the new disadvantaged groups have had it their own way for generations and have benefited from their own class's unwritten "affirmative action" policies. There is some truth in that, but it doesn't justify turning the tables and giving different groups their own crack at being "more equal than others."

There are two principles that must underlie a creative, successful, and free society. One is that each individual -- not group -- must have the opportunity to reach his full potential. The other is that society must have the opportunity to reach its full potential. It cannot do that if the government decrees that differences in various kinds of ability must be artifically erased by clipping the wings of the more able and redefining ability on ideological grounds.

John S Bolton said at August 27, 2005 9:11 AM:

the best way to break up political speech taboos is to talk and publish more on that which they try to maintain silence on. The damage to civilization from egalitarian metaphysics is already severe. Decades have gone by without a major theoretical breakthrough sweeping a subject, as the continental drift theory did before the racial quota system was set up in 1971. It could be that it is only the resistance of a number of science and engineering departments to quotas which is preventing an overall rout into medieval stagnation. Officialdom and their professoriate will not give up on this omerta on the fact that quality of population is all important. Socialism in its ideal and radical form has been revealed in history to be absolute corruption, to be mass murder for the hell of it. This leaves one possibility for those who still want it; choose your issues on the basis of whether the other side can be smeared as violent racists, sexists, xenophobes, etc. This whole process is a ruthless power struggle waged by the leftist professoriate, in servility to official discretion, against whatever human success can be gotten away with destroying. Privatizing the government schools, or persuasively threatening to do so, would show that they can't get away with it now, but what else would?

John S Bolton said at August 27, 2005 9:24 AM:

Further; look at how this taboo on the inequality of man is maintained. Those who speak of it can be fired or cause their employers to become subject to lawsuits by the disadvantaged. Professors with tenure may often dislike to bring their school or department into the range of shystering lawsuits. Entire industries, institutions and professions are corrupted into the most ignoble appeasement of disadvantaged minority activists, viciously repeating lies, and engaging in propaganda offensives of decades' duration. The dishonest anticulture of egalitarian advertising takes over and crowds out truth, corrupt professionals do not believe, but repeat the lies from fear.

TangoMan said at August 27, 2005 2:13 PM:

Regarding the Korean aAdoptioin Study, I wrote two posts on the topic, here and here, in which more detail is explored than one finds in a summary of the paper.

John S Bolton said at August 27, 2005 3:00 PM:

The 'Minnesota Transracial Adoption" study of Scarr and Weinberg is even more pertinent. No environmental lessening of the gap between the white and black children could be found, where the intervention was the most extreme kind; it was adoption into educated homes. No conceivable government program could do more than was done here;yet even this was not enough to produce any significant lessening of the relevant gap.

John S Bolton said at August 27, 2005 6:00 PM:

These omertas in defense of pious lies, can cause damage that could last for centuries, if they permit baneful policies to continue for lack of criticism. In note 44 of the article referenced, Murray gives the update on the fertility differentials of black women in terms of IQ, or their result. The gap between black and white IQ's is increasing by 3 1/2 points each generation from this cause. Consider that, as a result of affirmative action, there is heavy selective recruitment of black women for colleges, graduate programs, employment and promotions, and such that those above their group average, often have careers which do not plateau until they are infertile. One might conclude that racial quotas, plus the gender preferences, are causing a divergence, which, if continued for several generations, would be like that between whites and blacks in Zimbabwe. If the lies continue, and the omertas are enforced by turning more voracious shysters loose on these issues, it will scarcely be permitted for the public to see this result.

John S Bolton said at August 27, 2005 6:17 PM:

I mean that the public will not be permitted to identify such a process intellectually. A reciprocating influence can be set in motion, in which a widening gap causes more intense quota recruitment in the manner which further widens the gap, requiring stricter affirmative action, and so on.

Jason Malloy said at August 27, 2005 7:55 PM:

Tango and Randall,

Also see my post on IQ and transracial adoption studies, including discussion of a new longitudinal adoption study that came out last October, that showed that Asians adopted into and raised by white families had higher grade point averages than adopted whites (this matched several earlier studies showing that adopted Asians had higher IQs). Like the earlier (and larger) study of similar design, blacks raised by white families scored as far behind the white adoptees as blacks score behind whites in the general population (look at the NAEP comparisons at the bottom).

Invisible Scientist said at August 27, 2005 8:35 PM:

That the genes determine the IQ and hence all future success is clear.

Therefore, in the future, all individuals will do anything possible, both legal and illegal, to have intelligent children, by means of genetics.

On the other hand, since the value of the individual is often proportional to abilities, then perhaps the future legislation will give more weight to the votes of high IQ people. Perhaps the individuals below the IQ of 120 will not be allowed to vote, and the number of votes per person, will be given by the formula:
V(IQ) := H(IQ-120)*exp(IQ-120)
where exp(x) is the exponential funtions, and
H(x) is defined as follows:
H(x) = 1 whenever x is greater than or equal to 1,
and
H(x) = 0 whenever x is less than 1.

This will be a new form of democracy.

mariana said at August 28, 2005 3:27 AM:

Yes, but remember how the more educated you are the more likely you are to vote Democrat or be an idiot politically.

"This will be a new form of democracy."
If democracy really means fascism then yes I guess it will be.

John S Bolton said at August 28, 2005 11:20 PM:

This political speech taboo on the lasting inequalities of significance also makes it all the more difficult to complain of the unspeakable anticaucasianism that infests our public institutions, such as colleges. Those who make bold to protest the injustice against the majority are few; their outlets circumscribed. It could be that the left of today lives or dies by the maintenance of such a taboo. A politicized anticulture which has only ad hominem and other fallacies to support its positions, is one that has to fear free speech. If the only way the left can exert influence is to choose issues where the other side can be smeared, they will surely fear a rational resolution of such issues, by reference to the facts.

Martin Bauer said at August 29, 2005 8:43 AM:

"Invisible Scientist", you are great! "mariana": Is then fascism on its way to come, or do we need IQ-meritocracy in order to keep it at bay?
Rick Darby, I will come back to you soon. I appreciated your structurized reply, yet, I think, I will beg to differ.

Jim said at August 29, 2005 10:04 AM:

nice post and comments thread.
it seems to me that the fact of statistical difference in intelligence between different groups (i.e. races) is obvious. once that point is accepted by society, there are several tacks that society can take.
my preference is to eliminate the concept of race for the sake of college admissions, etc. and focus solely on academic merit (or merit of whatever you're selecting for).
my fear is that race is used as a short-cut to selecting for merit based on the observed statistical differences. this would probably work in the short-term and fail miserably in the long term.

i will also point out that this post and discussion assumes that higher iq is always better; which in my experience is not always (but usually) the case depending on what job, etc. you're selecting a candidate for.

John S Bolton said at August 29, 2005 1:22 PM:

They have found a couple of occupations where more IQ is not better, out of thousands of such job classifications. Another huge problem with the maintenance of the officially administered taboo on publicity of the 'intractable' differences, is that it leads to conspiracy assumptions. If one group has a dozen times it share of professorships, and the pious lies say we must believe, and act politcally as if we believe that all genetically distinguishable groups are equal in ability, it will be assumed that the overrepresentation is a criminal conspiracy. If one group owns all the major department stores, as in Germany in the 1930's; if it is assumed politically that there are no intractable inequalities, the alternative is to hate and fear the 'conspirators' and act against them politically. Official anticaucasianism becomes like antisemitism, and everything then depends on those who will speak against the gathering of power for worse anticaucasianism, and deny power to those who exploit these differences to gain power. This is not an economic, but a power, dispute.

Martin Bauer said at September 1, 2005 1:36 AM:

"mariana", I’m sorry, I was rash, didn’t imagine the diction of "Invisible Scientist" could allow for him being serious. You are absolutely right. Assuming that a higher rate of measurable intelligence were in any way linked up with better fulfilling that criteria which makes you more valuable a voter for public prosperity is a notion that belongs to "fascist" thinking in the broader sense. We should remember that university lecturers were the one professional group in Germany that gave Adolf Hitler the broadest support when he rose to power.

"Invisible Scientist", how do you square your statement here ("That the genes determine the IQ and hence all future success is clear.") with what you say on Wednesday, Aug. 31? "The joblessness of the recovery ... Immigration is not the real problem here. The solution is to raise the IQ of the existing population, and to make them work harder in high school and college, to compete with emerging countries." Am I just too stupid to understand, or are you calling for grand-scale genetic social planning as a tool to raise national workers productivity?

Martin Bauer said at September 1, 2005 6:17 AM:

Now, I have really stirred up a flurry. Please look at the blog of Friday, Aug. 31 for a clarifying remark of "The Invisible Scientist". He really meant his above comment ironically. I'm sorry; I beg his pardon.

Martin Bauer said at September 3, 2005 6:26 AM:

Mr. Darby, I do by no means hold that a caste society is needs or best prevented by cliving to any set of social dogmata (i.e. apodictic guidelines imposed on acting and thinking, scientific thinking incl.). I do nevertheless disagree substantially with what you delineated as being Randall Parker’s conclusions drawn from the fact of inequality due to race, gender or other differentiations, though I do not criticize your portrayal of Mr. Parker’s position.

Moreover, I did very well appreciate what Mr. Murray said in the way of presenting actual results of research. For example, I did only recently come across that theory claiming the concept of "race" itself to be a spurious notion making for racism; and I instinctively, but without complete self-assurance, put up resistance against this allegation. Mr. Murray’s contribution will help me in a discussion I intend to engage in shortly, where I will oppose the view that we Europeans (I am German, so sorry, by the way, for any clumsy figure of speech!) ought to accept that America and Europe are two thoroughly separated cultures that did not allow for a mutual set of values still uniting us.

There are still, by and large, in both hemispheres of the occident the three basic values of freedom, equality and some notion of "subsidiarity", introduced to hold a balance between both former; with the European "fraternity" more hinged upon equality, and the American "pursuit of happiness" more focused on freedom and individuality. (These "values" are a heritage of both Christendom and Enlightenment, for though being in itself more kin to enlightenment, they still bear witness to the Christian roots of even the most rational realms of our culture.)

At this juncture, we are to answer the question, what to make of this "value" of equality in the face of actual differences. There is one modish way to belittle the antagonism between freedom and equality, though only this antagonism engenders the challenge which makes the third value a political necessity, – whether you call it solidarity (thus laying the stress on the demands of society on the individual for the sake of society being able to uphold freedom) or whether you interpret this challenge as letting each live up to his potential (thus stressing the demands of the individual on society with the intent of individuality making the collective sociable and social). This spurious solution is exactly what I deplore as being at the core of that highly dubious revolution and recrudescence of capitalism which is due to the teachings of the Chicago School (Milton Friedman) having gained acceptance. It suggests that by drawing a border line between socialist-bad equality of outcomes and capitalist-good equality of chances we had all we need to fashion prosperity. Well indeed, on a semantic level, it sounds almost self-evident, but the problem is frankly that this border-line does not and cannot exist.

In my first comment, I took on a polemic approach. For, strictly speaking, I should said that there is no such thing as a real, i.e. general taboo in modern western societies with two exceptions: death and sin (death as the one thing that seems utterly futile, yet should be the mainspring of wisdom - Psalm 90:12 -, sin as the offense to our self-esteem that death is earned - Rom. 6:22f). Inequality is far from being tabooed, it is eschewed by our code of political correctness. Yet even this blind spot is not due to a stubborn screening of reality, it is the rigidity of one side of a precarious socio-political truce established upon failure to deal in more creative and equitable terms with social antagonisms. Maybe the other side, justifying social disabilities, is less rigid a stereotype, but then even more resilient in posing as the most natural thing on earth. It is not! You say, Mr. Parker and Mr. Murray only want us to accept a fact. Sorry, but that is not true. They want to shift or reverse a political bias that has up to now been essential for our way of sustaining civil fairness, even if itself is a crutch.

First of all it is not one (defined and circumscribed) fact that we are expected to finally heed. For though some environments may ban open speech about it (because they lack the grit to engage in an intellectual war on two fronts), I think the broad idea of racial or gender particuliarities resulting in differentiations of physical and mental media endowment should scarcely have too egregious a ring for public to be called truth despised. Rather, wherever you have the interplay of the general-but-unfathomable and the special-but-fitful, where therefore inductive and deductive methods must be disinterestedly combined, you cannot give a simple formula for proper dealing with facts but the proper behavior is itself the creative intertwining of finding and applying formulae.

This bears on the relation of broad population to élites, esp. those of knowledge (i.e. science). The scientists do certainly know the facts of their province better than public, but the public does not know if the methodology wherewith scientific mainstream picks the facts eligible to being heeded, followed or deepened, is more likely to further the well-being of society or to sap its morals.
Without going into this quandary, Mr. Murray recommends to strictly apply science in unprejudiced discussions about social matters, yet he does not – laudably – shun to recognize, that in Europe (see ref. 76, "The Inequality Taboo") it is the public, not the élites, who are sensitive to the fact, as I see it, that the "European project" is not on a sustainable tack. Where does he get his assurance, that upon tearing down one bias on behalf of science recommending it, another bias is not likely to step into its shoes on the ground of "science itself" being in the grip of it?

If you suspect me, you are very right: I think this other bias will be nothing else but the force balancing the inequality "taboo" in the above mentioned civil truce. If we engage in so many "honest" discussions about inequalities as Mr. Murray wants us to, we are very likely to soon seeing differences and chasms everywhere.

You may call my approach defeatist, but there's a third, quite natural (i.e. unideological) thing between equality in technical or law terms and equality of outcomes, an "equality" that I deem also being nearer to the conception of the American Constitution. It is "equality in dignity or worth", i.e. in the self-evident caring of society for the specific outlooks of all of its members alike, even of those who are utterly unnecessary for what society defines as being its purpose in technical terms.

With this understanding of equality as a basic value of equal rank with freedom, I find your argument wanting.
You claim "disadvantaged groups have had it their own way" is the gist of the argument in favour of affirmative action. Sorry, but in my eyes you completely neglect the propulsive character of how capitalist organization of society deals out life chances. Money and standing are not a luscious reward given in return for an abstractly conceived input of effort, money and standing are a bridge between past earnings (whether of oneself or of patrons) and future chances. Affirmative action is not about compensating for past discrimination but about offsetting lingering effects distorting actual distribution of chances to live up to individual potential.

This is the background of why I say that equality of outcomes approaches cannot be completely separated from equality of chances issues. Jason Malloy‘s argument that family environment steps back statistically behind natural endowment with regard to future education and employment does not refute my observation that it may well be that in a society with less (racist or "counter-racist") prejudice the potentials of minority groups might be better recruited by the range of employments and disciplines society evolves to provide. These outlets for meaningful minority employment lacking, you argue that it is improper, even irresponsible to legally enforce 'second eligibility' engagements by taking into account racial desiderata of the supply side of labour market instead of concentrating on the efficiency and utility criterion to best fit a given demand for man- or brainpower.

If you let a fish compete with a man on which is swifter the outcome is utterly determined by whether you place the contest in water or on land. So why should minorities be held responsible for entire society‘s (i.e. mostly the majority‘s) policy that brought about too little pools to favour fishes without arbitration? The idea that markets by themselves would move and evolve to activate fallow human potentials is the one bright shining of capitalism, as Joseph Stiglitz (the former Chief Economist of the World Bank and chairman of President Clinton’s council of Economic Advisors) has pointed out. It needs collective, i.e. "affirmative" action to make the market sense, there is a "slot" where future demand may arise, which would without patronizing remain fallow, with statistical certainty. Such affirmative action is indeed a momentary staying behind potentials to clear the market in the most effective way, and it is yet economically sound, just as working with apprentices is first a drag, but ultimately the way to rejuvenate an enterprise.

There is one significant passage in "The Inequality Taboo", which reveals the lapse in Mr. Murray’s line of thought, as I see it. He includes "differences between the poor and non-poor" into the categories of innate differentiations. (Find the paragraph starting: "Thus my modest recommendation, ...") And he imagines this to be an effective, let alone better, way to get along with war-on-poverty policy. Yet, poverty has for its main reason poverty itself, i.e. its own vicious circle! Does Mr. Murray really think he can make "compensatory redistribution" an (at)tractive tool of politics, a pity-moved alimentation of those disfavoured by nature? Is he talking of the same Washington (or London, or Berlin..) that I know? From the moment you trace poverty amidst a wealthy society back to innate factors you throw real ambition to fight poverty overboard; it’s as simple as that! And you will finally get your caste society even if you don’t call for it, because every slight random disparity due to racial differences will be amplified and entrenched by a social process reduced to technical terms of efficiency and utility without a vital (i.e. not subsumed under "equally free", but "equal in being an atom of what gives society meaning") conception of equality working for social cohesion.


Martin Bauer said at September 3, 2005 3:18 PM:

Now I have finally come across a text of Mr. Murray’s: "What’s so bad about being poor?" that answers the question I rose in my first comment whether he is aware of the some equality in dignity being decisive for a morally prosperous society. I found that I thoroughly misconceived him. In this text, he testifies to a thoughtful, caring and responsible personality. If I could have been more swift in grasping all facets of his argument I would have avoided this shameful recognition. The lapse I deplored in the last paragraph of my last comment is due to my own lapse into distrusting him that has blinded me to the fact that he there spoke of (empirical) differences with no hint to them being necessarily innate. No my entire argument stands out as an ancillary line of thought dealing with the touchy task of a well-balanced public reception of Mr. Murray’s findings. Perhaps the reader may learn best from my comments if he tries to understand how I allowed myself to prejudice.

John S Bolton said at September 4, 2005 11:35 AM:

Equality of moral worth seems to be a very doubtful claim; how would we retain the capacity of moral judgement, if there are no such differences to react to, or judge? Equality of dignity, such that relative poverty, relative ill health and the like, are considered to be infringements of such and such dignity, is not a proper value to be sought. Even if it could be, as if envy had valid claims, but human merit did not, there cannot be true moral justification for the increase of aggression upon the net taxpayer. Merit is similar to, but not exactly the same as, moral worth. Human value of differential levels, is the given, which political ideals must accept. It is disturbing to consider that Europe now, would be capable of evaluating society in terms of the degree to which it provides equality of opportunity to all possible classes, rather than evaluating in terms of the degree to which a society contributes to the upbuilding of civilization. There would be a betrayal of great proportions, if the world is looking to these people for the furtherance of cvilization; and, instead, they say: but we want to uplift the moslem!


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