Thursday, 30 April 2009

The Justification of Double Standards

2 comments
When I started this blog I was already focused on the issue of double standards in society and and named it "No Double Standards". My view then was that many of the issues and problems of our societies, the problems of conflicts of interest and their means of resolution, the use and abuse of power and persuasion, were due to double standards, however originated and however apparently justified.

Double Standards in Society
By double standard here is meant that there is one rule for "us" - the in-group - and a different rule for "them" the out-group, however "us" and "them" are defined, except to note that my targets are usually both citizens of a state.A double standard turns these citizenships into two groups based on some trait - biological or social - and usually as determined only by the in-group. The in-group gets to decide this classification and, often, apart from the consequences of this classification, specifically denies members of the involuntarily assigned out-group the means to dispute such classification itself, as well as means to dispute the consequences of it.

There can be multiple double standards in a state where citizens can be in some in-groups and for other traits be in the out-groups and this can change through time. Not all double standard are unjustified, in which case they are not actually double standards, just a single standard or just a standard. The challenge is to distinguish between the two and with as little bias as possible.

For example, minors to do not have the same rights as adults for justifiable reasons - maturity and competence. Also adults do not have the same rights to do to minors what is permissible to do to adults - to protect minors from being abused.

Being affected by such a (single) standard may sometimes not change with time. For example, the mentally handicapped have special protections and rights - at least in some countries - compared to the mentally competent. Note in this case, they might be involuntary members of this group but it was not due to the determination of the in-group - although this can be abused such as in the use of psychiatric sectioning for dissenters in Soviet Russia and the former classification of homosexuality as a mental illness.

Single versus Double Standards
There are many standards which we might benefit from, or not, as we grow up and establish different relationships in society. These are only double standards if there is no rational justification based on empirical evidence. Sometimes this can be very difficult to determine and it may not be possible nor to eliminate all double standards from society but it is a worthwhile goal to consider the implications of so doing.

A History of Double Standards
Now we can look at history in terms of progress due to the elimination of the most egregious double standards and the more severe ones have motivated many to seek change, both within and without the state in questions - such as apartheid in South Africa.

The Use of Ideology
Like any analysis this approach can be used and abused itself and it can be distorted by interested parties as it serves their advantage. The use of ideology has been particularity compelling in this regard and we need a non-ideological means of evaluating these challenges.

One of the most popular and classical uses of ideology has been to use religious-based morality to justify the double standard in question- to falsely assert that it was a single standard, applicable to all. This persuasive tool is used, whether by design or not, to the favour the beneficiaries of the double standard. They get to set the terms of persuasion by determining what is morally good and morally bad, which justifies the double standard in dispute - if they even recognise the dispute - since knowing they are morally right can be used to dismiss the objections of the out-group, since they are morally wrong.

Self-defeating moral double standards
My original approach was to show how such "moral" positions were self-defeating and contradictory and incoherent, if I was correct in my analysis. That many who use moral reasoning to justify a purported double standard were being immoral in so doing, that their arguments hoisted them on their own petard. Specifically I attempted to do this without me using moral arguments in reply.

Is this approach justified itself?
Still there was an underlying question behind this, was I ethically or morally justified in seeking to resolve double standards? Did I need such a type of justification or was only a rational and empirical inquiry required? Was I introducing bias of my own in this approach? This led to an investigation into ethics which has led to the blog and my views as it is to day. Tomorrow I will discuss justifications of looking through the lens of double standards as a means to criticise and seek reform in society.

2 comments:

Naviya Nair said...

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Naviya Nair said...

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