Sunday, February 20, 2011

Equality Before the Law

Hayek starts chapter six highlighting the damaging assumption that all men are created equal. I was glad to learn that Hayek feels that a human is the outcome of both nature and nurture (their genetics and environment). I find this interesting and it shows a bit more how in Hayek was ahead of his time. This this book was published in 1960 during the time when behaviorism was popular and many scholars truly believed that you are a creation of your environment. This kind of logic is imbalanced and is based on the false preposition that all men are created equal. I really like how Hayek starts of dismissing it. Embracing individuality is very important and if we want to live in world that cherishes personal liberty we must allow people to be themselves. Hayek then makes a very interesting point, if we were to successfully aim for equality this could only be done through treating people differently.

“From the fact that people are very different it follows that if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently.”

This is an interesting world to think about. Many out there would state that we don’t have equality before law I would argue that we don’t have absolute equality before the law, but comparatively we do have it in the US then in other countries. It is noteworthy that Hayek mentions this statement as it seems to be a logic game in its set up. He defines that if we treat people similarly under the rule of law they will end up in different outcomes, then he reverses his statement than then the only way to get equality would be for the state to impose different laws and standards for people. A world with absolute diversity before the law for the sake of equality is one interesting to ponder. The closest thing I’ve read to this was a science fiction short story in high school which aimed at reaching equality by placing handicaps on people (so the talented people needed various levels handicaps). This kind of logic probably would be unpopular and if a society wanted to impose a law system like the one Hayek mentions that would encourage equality it would probably be aimed at lifting up the people at the bottom rather that those at the top. For example this is a reason why progressive tax structures are typically popular. This though implicitly would still hold some back in the name of equality. This though, is a system which I wouldn’t enjoy, as differing laws for differing individuals to keeping them equal would be a complex and confusing system in reality…this is simply because it is fighting the core of human nature our unique selves.

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