Via The New Yorker, last night I read this thought-provoking profile of Elizabeth Anderson, a philosopher of growing renown in that male-dominated field. She’s working to disconnect the inverse relationship between freedom and equality. That is, the idea that freedom is expanded at the expense of equality and vice versa. I never thought about the ‘left vs. right’ debate boiling down to that underlying assumption. From the article:
If individuals exercise freedoms, conservatives like to say, some inequalities will naturally result. Those on the left basically agree—and thus allow constraints on personal freedom in order to reduce inequality. The philosopher Isaiah Berlin called the opposition between equality and freedom an “intrinsic, irremovable element in human life.” It is our fate as a society, he believed, to haggle toward a balance between them. […]
The trouble was that many people, picking up on libertarian misconceptions, thought of freedom only in the frame of their own actions. If one person’s supposed freedom results in someone else’s subjugation, that is not actually a free society in action. It’s hierarchy in disguise.
The piece is a long one (Pocket estimates 38 minutes), but it’s worth the read, sometimes heady but entertaining throughout: The Philosopher Redefining Equality
On a side note, mid-way through the article there’s a New Yorker cartoon that’s the most bizarre one I’ve ever seen.
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