What makes all human beings equal?

This seems like a rather mundane question to some, but one everyone needs to have an answer to. It has profound implications politically, sociologically, and religiously. I think it is fair to say that the great majority of us believe all human beings are equal — not necessarily in social status, but fundamentally. The reality is that all people are not treated equally, but this fact is irrelevant to whether or not the should be, and I think we all agree that they should be.

So what it is that makes all human beings equal so that they should be treated equally?


  1. Jesus

  2. Let me be controversial and say we aren’t all equal. Some people have low IQs and some people are sociopaths and some are prone to siezures and some are color blind. Freedoms are rightfully restricted on the basis of capacity to control oneself or to comprehend oneself. All people are not created equal.

    However, human rights paints with a broad brush. Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is a standard that humans can easily meet, without regard to level of intelligence, mental stability, and to a certain extent, quality of conscience. In this sense, human rights is a good term for our collective protection of humanity.

    Humans and animals for that matter, should, to the greatest extent possible, be afforded rights they can ask for. “Don’t kill me” “Don’t torture me” “Let me run free” “Let me love whom I choose”. These are basic desires humans and animals can express whether or not they speak ‘Merican. Animals are quite capable of seeking freedom and expressing pain. Humans can express more complex desires of love, family, creation, and lasting legacy that many animals can not. In that we, we stand above most other non-human animals.

    Plants have no such desires for self perpetuation or self actualization. Animals, while they may desire freedom have not the capacity, in many cases, to restrain their wild nature and so must be restrained for the safety of all. By the same logic, animals often need human protection in the wild or in domestic situation to avoid starvation (due to domestication) or eradication due to over-reaching of human civilization (read: greed).

    What does NOT distinguish us is any divine spark or soul. Such a thing is unidentified by science and even illogical, so this false wall between human and non-human animals must be put aside. We must look to capacity for reason, love, temperance, and pain as gauges for what rights of personhood should be conferred upon any individual or species. We should ask how we justify our treatment especially of great apes, elephants, whales, and dolphins, just to name a few.

  3. I gave a response to a complex question and you want a yes or no answer. I decline. (And I think I answered just fine in the original post.)

  4. what interpretation? (and what fit?)

  5. Marshall Art says:

    That we are all created equal, as it is meant by the founders, is that we are not each of us equal in anything but how the law applies to us. Regardless of our differences physically or intellectually or whether we are born to wealth or extreme poverty, we each are the same as the law is applied to us.

    What makes us so is another matter. To the founders, and rightfully believed by them (and I agree), it was our Creator who made us so. Frankly, if one has no such belief in a Creator, a Supreme Being, God, one has no basis upon which to demand equality beyond what other men (the gov’t) allow.

  6. JB – no worries. I can always respond in comments. Trust me, I get misrepresented all the time. I trust you to try and lay things out fairly… mostly ;-)

  7. TerranceH says:

    People know the fundamental difference between human beings and other animals. For instance, two individuals can be very different in looks and abilities. We could place two human beings next to each other and start rattling off the differences. But then place those two individuals next to a mouse…Putting aside the pseudo-philosophical balderdash, we see the difference, we know the difference, we feel the difference. We know that human beings should not be placed on the same level as other species. And we should know that the worth of an organism should be (and generally is) related to the nature of the organism it is, rather than its abilities or capacities, which offer protection only insomuch as they are valuable to another. Otherwise our worth is merely transitory, which translates into necessary inequality among human beings.

    If you’re going to accept transitory value, then you must accept inequality. In which case you shouldn’t bother answering the question, since you don’t accept the premise.

  8. Jason’s unintelligible answer leaves me with no reason to to treat him equally. His blind faith in naturalism means that to me he cannot reason, so does that make him less human? His insistence on breaking down the wall of separation between man and animals is comically ignorant and shows he cannot make rational distinctions. Does his lack of reason mean I can beat him, enslave him, or kill him? According to his logic it does.

    He said: “We must look to capacity for reason, love, temperance, and pain as gauges for what rights of personhood should be conferred upon any individual or species. We should ask how we justify our treatment…” But, who made “reason, love, temperance and pain” criteria for the evaluation? Jason is reaching for objective moral criteria without trying to ground it in something absolute or concrete. Why should I accept his list of criteria? He might have well used “beauty, strength, reproductive capacity” as his criteria to confer “rights of personhood.”

    This evaluation of the “personhood” of others under Jason’s darwinistic religious faith means the weak are at the mercy of the mighty with no objective moral restraint on the actions of the mighty. In practice we see it played out in the weak Jews were not persons to the mighty Nazis; the weak slaves were not persons to mighty slave traders. That is the consequences for his philosophy. Now, he cannot bear the inevitable consequences of his philosophy so he has to borrow from a superior one: Christianity. That is why “reason, love, temperance, and doing no harm” are part of his criteria.

    Because Jason refuses to acknowledge the inherent worth in everyone because we are all created in the image of God, Jason’s naturalistic, secular humanistic faith leads to the tyranny of people he evaluates as not deserving “human rights.”

  9. …And his illogical, secular humanistic, darwinistic, naturalistic philosophical religion also leads to irrational conclusions like a human baby in the womb can be aborted, but you can’t kill a baby seal or harm a eagle’s eggs. His inspirational hero, Peter Singer, wants to put Jason’s philosophy in practice in parenting by allowing parents to be able to have their newborn killed up to 28 days after he is born. (Jason right of Singer: “I find Peter Singer to be a great inspiration to remind me of my responsibilities.”)

    Philosophies have consequences and some philosophies are more deadly than others.

  10. “The rich and the poor have this in common, The Lord is the maker of them all.” (Proverbs 22:2)

  11. rautakyy says:

    @John Barron Jr, in short and simple, the demand for equality is a direct result for human understanding of the ideal of justice. Both of these derive from emphaty and our ability to have compassion and act upon it. What makes humans special in the animal kingdom is our wide capability of understanding complicated results of our actions and inaction.

    Clearly many of your commenters did not understand the question. To assert a god gave us equality as a gift is not answering the question. It is not even equal as to simply assert there are some declarations wich have a consensus of people behind them, that claim humans are equal. As long as there is no reason given why would this alledged god give such a gift, god is simply being presented as “deus ex machina”. Especially, as there is very little, if any, evidence for a god acting in this manner. If it were a god acting out our equal value, would we not be equal not only in ideals but also in practice?

    @Dog Tags, the idea of survival of the fittest in evolution is not some fascistic fantasy of the strong ruling over the weak. Fittest in this respect does not equal the strongest and I am sorry for you, that you would see them in that light. Fittest may mean also the most adaptable, or the most socially inclined, even the most egalitarian society and many other things.

    God is not “something concrete”. It is a very vague concept, while our ability for emphaty is rather easily observable phenomenon, though not equally in everybody.

  12. DogTags,

    “This evaluation of the “personhood” of others under Jason’s darwinistic religious faith means the weak are at the mercy of the mighty”
    I said nothing of the sort.

    “”he has to borrow from a superior one: Christianity. That is why “reason, love, temperance, and doing no harm” are part of his criteria.”
    If I borrowed from Christianity, my criteria would be Humans must “Love God, Love your neighbor” in that order or burn in hell forever. Animals don’t get rights. Maybe non-Christians can have rights, but they’ll burn in hell, so it doesn’t really matter. Stances on gay rights and reproductive rights, as well as women’s rights and minority rights for many Christians certainly give Christians no monopoly on ethics. Whatever your personal interpretation of “Christian human rights” may be, you can’t expect me to know. And you can see I certainly have no reason to privilege or revere that position.

    “Because Jason refuses to acknowledge the inherent worth in everyone because we are all created in the image of God, Jason’s naturalistic, secular humanistic faith leads to the tyranny of people he evaluates as not deserving “human rights.””
    Again nonsense. I said nothing of the sort. I recognize human rights for a different reason. Because I put forth perfectly acceptable and positive human rights for good reasons, you have no choice but to 1) misrepresent my position 2) attack my beliefs and 3) assert without reason that your way is better.

    And as someone who reveres and holds sacred their faith, you really shouldn’t use faith as an epithet.

  13. rautakyy says:

    @John Barron Jr. ontology, as such, was not mentioned in your post. Equal value of individual humans is a logical conclusion made by humans. History, as you propably know, is full of people who have not come to that conclusion, though.

    We could establish that all sentient beings have a particular value. For the time being sentient beings are not determined by any consensus, so we use to describe equality between humans as a part of human rights like an inherent part of humanity. That is natural as we are humans, after all (as I referred in my previous comment). Some of us humans have (finally) recognized all human individuals as humans proper. So I suppose that makes an ontological group to which demand for equality is natural. For example, much of historical slavery was based on the idea of some humans being somehow less human. The reasons varied from wrong skin colour to wrong religion, or other alien cultural traits, or they could for example be seen as less human because of their gender, or even sexual orientation. It has taken modern secularism to put equality of religious freedom and equality between the sexes into some sort of practice. Has it not?

    It is easy to point out differences between human individuals and groups, to claim they are different. However, we are not so different that we deserved different treatment. And that is what equality is all about. Is it not?

    However, bear in mind, that equality between humans does not refer to just anything describable as human of origin. For example a dissected bodypart is essentially human, but it holds no human rights.

    Humans find it easier to project their compassion to other humans, hence it is also easier to see them as equal. Does that entertain your point about ontology? I thought it was clear from my first comment, but here it is in other words.

    • But it was. I asked what makes people equal, not what makes people want to be considered equal, or why they are they thought to be. Rather if people are equal, what is it that makes them so not just considered to be.

  14. rautakyy says:

    @ John Barron Jr, now it is beginning to seem to me like you do not understand your own question. I do not know how much more simply I can put this. Humans have the right to demand to be treated equally because they are the same. That is what our – yours and mine – compassion should tell us. I know there are psychopats who can not concieve why people are equal, but it is our similarity, that makes us equal in the eyes of those of us who understand as much. It is not that hard. I honestly thought you knew this when you wrote your post.

    This is far more coplex question than this as jasontorpy demonstrated, but unlike him, I am trying to entertain your yes or no game. Did you get it this time?

    • First off, I think ot is a ridiculous notion that I don’t understand what I am asking.

      But secondly, so I understand you correctly, all human beings are equal because they are the same kind of thing, I.e. human beings? Do I understand you correctly?

  15. Jason,
    Me “accusing” you of having a religious faith is not an epithet. It is the truth. Your religious faith has made you blind to truth. Just because you reject God’s sovereignty does not mean you are not a person of faith. Your faith is in your own self as god. You hold to your own subjective determination of what is good and positive. What makes you put out “positive human rights?” How can you judge what is positive or negative without an absolute standard?

    That is why I believe your position to be ridiculous. You have to borrow a fixed standard of morality from Christianity because, if you were truly honest with yourself, there is no permanent basis for the standard your philosophy logically leads to. Why should I not slap you? Because you can hit me back harder? What if you couldn’t? What if I could slap you, your wife and kids around with impunity? What makes me doing that wrong?

    You might say “Because it causes pain.” What makes my causing pain wrong? Because it make you feel bad? What makes my making you feel bad wrong? There is only law, I shouldn’t cause pain, because of a lawgiver. You want the benefits of the laws given by the lawgiver without acknowledging the lawgiver.

  16. I say again that I denounce ‘might makes right’ ethics. I find it odd that you promote ‘might makes right’ ethics as long as it comes from your all-powerful but oddly-absent god.

    I also denounce cultural relativism and subjectivist ethics. I find it odd that you reject relativistic ethics and also feel so strongly about religious ethics. Religious ethics are the best examples of cultural relativism (in communities) or subjectivist (individual interpretation/revelation) ethics. Christianity is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. Cherry love, chocolate genocide, cocoa compassion, nougat slavery…. multiple marriage or monogamous marriage, gay rights or gay hate, reproductive rights or enforce pregnancy, slavery or abolition… depending on the time and place, people have used the Bible to enforce any manner of different versions of Christian law. There’s lots of evidence showing your lawgiver to be anything but a consistent source of ethics, good or bad.

    I couldn’t borrow a fixed standard of morality from Christianity because such a thing doesn’t exist.

    You ask what makes causing pain wrong? Ok. Go torture your children. Do you refrain from dipping your children in boiling water out of fear of hell or because you read somewhere in the Bible that that was a bad thing? Nonsense. You want to avoid causing suffering and help them from avoiding suffering. If you say it comes from a divine spark, then why does that urge fail so frequently?

    In case you think people should follow “god’s law” without reference to secular, humanistic ethics, then you must think these women did the right thing in killing their “possessed” children:
    Or maybe you think little children in Africa should be killed by Christian mobs accusing them of witchcraft:

    If god instructs you to kill simply to prove loyalty or piety, then you should say no. A purely Christian divine command theory of ethics says god defines right and wrong and nothing god says can be unethical. That is the path to suffering and genocide as evidenced by those many examples when people went around killing at god’s command. I hope you reject that kind of Christianity.

  17. TerranceH says:


    Clearly many of your commenters did not understand the question. To assert a god gave us equality as a gift is not answering the question.

    I certainly hope you’re not including me in that “many,” since I did not invoke God. Instead, I will invoke Montesquieu:

    A man in the state of nature would have the faculty of knowing rather than knowledge. It is clear that his frist ideas would not be speculative ones; he would think of the preservation of his being before seeking the origin of his being. Such a man would at first feel only his weakness; his timidity would be extreme. In this state, each feels himself inferior; he scarcely feels himself an equal. Such men would not seek to attack one another, and peace (the right to life) would be the first natural law.”

    This is an argument from man’s nature rather than man’s religious beliefs. It is the best explanation for inalienable rights I have ever read. But I should note that Montesquieu did accept the idea of a Creator. But, then again, so did our Founders, who relied heavily on Montesquieu in drafting our Constitution.


    Christianity is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. Cherry love, chocolate genocide, cocoa compassion, nougat slavery…. multiple marriage or monogamous marriage, gay rights or gay hate, reproductive rights or enforce pregnancy, slavery or abolition… depending on the time and place, people have used the Bible to enforce any manner of different versions of Christian law.

    Your argument against Christianity is that people have contorted it to fit their predetermined worldview? Not a very strong argument.

  18. Marshall Art says:

    Whether or not we are equal, that all people are equal, is something that is true or not regardless of the perception of any one individual person or group of people. It simply is. The question is how is that so? (if I am understanding the question correctly)

  19. TerranceH says:

    Yeah. And my answer is, as I said, can be found in the writings of Montesquieu.

    Such a man would at first feel only his weakness; his timidity would be extreme. In this state, each feels himself inferior; he scarcely feels himself an equal. Such men would not seek to attack one another, and peace would be the first natural law.”

    Implicit in this, I think, is a necessary equality. It simply must be if you accept Montesquieu’s reasoning that timidity is the nature of man. This also implies, according to me, a right to life.

    I cannot give you a better answer, because after having read Monesquieu’s explanation, anything I say will almost certainly be a disappointment.

    I hope I’ve answered the question.

  20. rautakyy says:

    @John Barron Jr, have you never met a person, that did not understand the question they were making? I have.

    You obviously do not understand me. Is it once again, that I write too long answers and you do not bother to read them, or what? I allready told you how much I am ready to deduce the notion, and yet, you try to strip it further. Your question is not about just one thing. One word. The answer requires a chain of deduction.

    Equality of people does not exist as a separate entity, if people do not understand the natural chain of cause and effect behind it, it simply does not exist. Is that not what you wrote in your original post? If there were no people, no demand for equality between humans would exist.

    The value of humanity is something we humans give to each other, or do not. It is our capacity for compassion and sense of justice, that tells us why it is right for people to demand equality. Even, if it is never totally reached. Now, I am getting a bit bored to tell you the same thing over and over again.

    @Terrance H, I did not include you to those who did not understand the question, I was more referring to those, who seem to think the demand for equality is limited to moralism derived from a particular god. The separating thing here is (once again) the division between ethics and moralism. If people arbtrarily demand something as morals, without understanding the reasons why it is right or wrong it is simply moralism. This is so, if someone simply asserts there should be equality because a god tells us there should be equality. That really leads to nowhere, because a nother man might demand exactly the opposite on the grounds of his understanding of the same or different gods. That road leads to nowhere, exept sometimes to violence as history and the news tell us.

    I agree with you that the right for equality does not come simply from utility. However, we are social creatures us mammals. Some are more social than others. Sociality is a natural survival mechanic, not only of the individual but the family group and even species. Further more, we humans are aware of the necessity for preservation of our environment to further this cause. It is our social capabilities, that give us the mechanics of determining wether the demand for equality is right, or wrong.

    We know that some of the Neanderthal men were buried as old geezers, though their bones reveal that they had suffered incapacitating injuries as youths. Hence, even these invalids held some sort of inherent value to the Neanderthal people. Did they worship any gods and did they think those gods gave the value to every member of their community? We simply do not know. But, if you look at your brother, sister, or any member of your community, or even any human being, do you not think they should be helped, if they cannot help themselves, that they should be treated equally with the same respect? Regardless, if there is a divine punishment included for not helping, or an everlasting life to reward you for helping?

    It really makes no difference wether there is a god, or not, for this particular question. God is a premise we have no certain knowledge of, therefore it is irrelevant wether the ideas of compassion, justice, or compassion come from a god, multiple gods, or by nature. This demand for equality is a natural phenomenon, so no gods are required to explain it. Human beings find each other equal, if they understand the equal need for equal treatment between individuals.

    • Rautakyy

      You keep explaining that people demand equality for certain reasons. I am asking that if you think people are actually equal, what makes them so?

      And I asked for clarification from you that you seem to be saying that we have equality only if it is granted by others, is that right?

      You are answering “why do” not “what makes”.

      I’m not arguing with you, just trying to be clear.

  21. TerranceH says:


    I don’t see anything wrong with that explanation. But I would take it a bit further and suggest, in line with Montesquieu, that human beings are equal because timidity is the nature of man – all men. It is in this way we are equal.

    Sounds like an extraordinary thing to say given the capacity for violence and war we human beings have, but Montesquieu argues that this is a result of societies.

    He says:

    Hobbes asks, If men are not naturally in a state of war, why do they always carry arms and why do they have keys to lock their doors? But one feels that what can happen to men only after the establishment of societies, which induced them to find motives for attacking others and for defending themselves, is attributed to them before the establishment…I have said that fear would lead men to feel one another, but the marks of mutual fear would soon persuade them to approach one another.”

    He then goes on to suggest why universal rights are necessary after the establishment of society. And why do we establish societies? Because we are social animals. like you say.

    Generally, I feel the same as John, Marshall, and Dog Tags: [W]e are equal because of our Creator. But apart from that, we are equal because it is necessary.

    I’ve found through my debates with liberals that it’s necessary to have a secular reason on hand for — everything. LOL. So, Montesquieu provides the basis for my secular reasoning.

  22. rautakyy says:

    @John Barron, fair enough. Now, since I know you like allegories, I will give you one. This is a bit like if you asked: How many legs does a dragon have? If I would answer you, dragons have been depicted in heraldry and art with no legs, two legs, four legs and even with more, but since dragons are imaginary creatures, in that sense they do not have legs at all. You simply could demand for me to say if they have two or four legs, but that arbitrary number is beside the point. We could go on talking about dragons with wings to logically having two legs and dragons without wings to logically having four legs, but even that would not answer the actual question.

    Equality is not just some abstract concept. It is in our actions and inaction where equality actually resides. It is in our judgement of what is equal treatment and how do we determine it. That is “what makes” us equal, if we come to that conclusion. People who do not come that conclusion do not create equality. We treat them as our equals, but there is no equality between them and others, even though their ability for compassion should tell them they should come to that conclusion. Why, is the most important aspect of this question. It is us humans who make each other equal, because we see the reasons for the need of equal treatment through our sense of justice and empathy. That is the point of my answer, and that is what I originally thought you tried to ask. If I were simply to assert we humans make each other equal, without coming to the reasons why, that would not answer your question. That would be like simply answering: Dragons have no legs, period. The religious answers some of your commenters have given are in that sense like saying: Dragons have so and so many legs because it says so in the Bible.

    @TerranceH, yes there usually is a secular reason for everything. If none presents itself it does not yet automatically mean there is a divine reason. This does not rule out the possibility of a divine reason behind the secular reason, but it is a matter of faith to take that leap to accept the divine influence. Freedom of religion allows any person to take that leap, as long as it does not conclude them to put aside the secular reason in favour of violence towards other people. As the divine reason is not a necessary one, the secular reason is quite adequate for me.

  23. Jason, you have fallen to lazy thinking. Acts committed in the name of Christianty are not necessarily a result of its tenets. (Taking Old Testament passages meant to govern an ancient Israelite theocracy and insisting Christians are either hypocrites for not applying them today or evil because they do apply them is lazy scholarship.) But actions based on your philosophy inevitably leads to moral relativism and the dominant morality suppressing all others. This inevitable outcome is what you can’t bear, so you borrow from God’s fixed standards.

  24. Marshall Art says:


    You seem to be suggesting that equality exists only because people decide it does. In that case, equality does not exist if enough people insist it does not. This does not align at all with the views of many that equality is inherent and exists regardless of the perspectives and opinions of mankind, in the same way we believe morality exists. And whether or not one believes in a Supreme Being does not matter as far as how our US form of government was founded. It relied on the understanding that people ARE equal before the law regardless of the circumstances of their birth.

    This is different than the understanding of others that suggests we are all supposed to be alike more than equal. The same amount of wealth, the same incomes, the same everything. This is not equality as is being addressed here. THAT “equality” is unachievable and impractical to even attempt to achieve. The equality of which we speak is simply understood to be how laws are applied. That is why, for example, homosexuals have no argument regarding being discriminated against as regards marriage law. The legal understanding of marriage is the traditional definition and as such, no one is denied the ability to marry, even homosexuals. But no one is allowed to decide what marriage means if their definition does not align with the legal understanding.

    Of course, another example is theft or murder. One’s station in life does not allow for leniency or special considerations if one is to be equal to another of a different station. A rich man who murders is supposed to be as subject to trial and punishment as is a poor man. They are obviously not equal in terms of wealth, but they are equal in terms of how the law is applied to each of them.

    Our form of government assumed that equality came first, that it existed before those who created the government and came to be born to live by its laws. The founders did not assume equality DIDN’T exist and needed to be mandated. What was mandated was the recognition that it ALREADY existed. They found it to be self-evident and could not disregard the fact of it in creating the new government.

    Thus, it was understood that Nature or Nature’s God created each of us this way. So, it doesn’t matter your belief system. It only matters that it recognizes this point.

    If equality, like morality, is a human invention, then it is subject to the whims of whatever group has power. Yet, I think you would agree that, for instance, murder and theft would always be wrong regardless of what the law says about it. Why? Because you say so, or because it IS so? I say the latter. The same with equality. It simply is so and the answer to the question then narrows the possibilities for how it is so.

  25. rautakyy says:

    @Marshall Art, thank you for that insight. Now I see your problem.

    But do you not see that morality and equality are subjects to what ever group has the power? That is the reality we live in. Look for example how long it took for your black people, or women to reach the same “inalienable rights” your founders set for every man. You wrote of the rich man and the poor man, but do you honestly think they are equal in the face of law in your country?

    Now, I am not a cultural relativist, who would think that any morals is good by the reality of who has the political power. However, I do hold that democracy is pretty much the best form of government we have. In a democracy it is the majority that sets the morals of the society. The majority may choose to employ some cultural tradition (such as religion) to determine what is moral, or it may use the simple natural capability for empathy, to determine the same issues. Often these two are found in collition course, like in your example of the rights of homosexuals. I find it intriguing that while others find from the same cultral tradition, in this case mostly Christianity, the excuse to present their prejudice (a very natural behaviour model), others find from it the message of compassion (a nother natural behaviour model).

    Murder and theft are wrong from the viewpoint of compassion and empathy. We do not require a holy book, or law to understand why. Laws are there made by humans for humans to have a consensus on what is a reasonable punishment, if someone is selfish and does not care for others, has no compassion for the victims. However, there are gray areas of these acts, that as societies humans have accepted. For example death penalty is not seen as a murder in many countries, though other nations deem it as totally immoral. No nation thinks that killing of an enemy soldier is murder, even if the situation would have nothing to do with self defence. Most nations do not think that bombing enemy civillians is a murder, but when aeroplanes were first introduced in war, this was commonly seen as immoral. Is the collecting of taxes or, or police, or military requisitioning a theft? We understand that there are conditions where such extreme measures are seen by a particular society as necessary.

    My point is that there are no values outside our existance. As Immanuel Kant once said, nothing comes from nothing. A value we give to a concept has to have a reason for us to value it. If the reason is that this authority gave it, and we do not understand why, then chances are, we are allready in trouble. I child might reason as far as, well dad said so, it must be so. But an adult should try to understand the reprecussions of his/her actions.

    We should remember that old cultural traditions and their morals are inherited from some former form of government and their ideals for morals. The major problem of religions is just that, when such moralism is claimed to be of divine origin, then the cause and effect reasoning is abandoned, and a dogma is presented. Like in my example of the dragons legs. I am not saying that we should abandon the wisdom of those who were before us, but we should seek out what is right and good by our ability for compassion. That is the place we find the demand for equality of all a just and reasonable cause.

    Reason dictates that we are all happier if we are equal in the face of law. Reason dictates that we are all happier, if no one is oppressed. Not some arbitrary declaration nor any particular divinity whose motives we truly do not know. For an extreme example, the city state of Sparta held majority of people living in Lakonia under the rule and oppression of the true Spartans. The Spartan economy was based on Lakonia providing work force, while Spartans were professional soldiers. So great their fear of the Lakonian people to revolt or other nations to interfere in their rule, that the Spartans learned to live in constant self restraint to remain the mighty and feared warriors. They were themselves consumed by the inequality of their existance.You see reasoning made the spartans to think it would have been unrealistic to give their subjects equal rights they enjoyed, and it was their religious tradition, that this is how things are supposed to be. But even their contemporaries noticed that they were the victims of their own society.

    Reason and logic dictate the necessity of equality through compassion, not some old scriptures wether they are from some wise founding members of a particular state or an alledged divinal inspiration from any particular god.

  26. TerranceH says:


    I think you just ran into the rub. You make a good point that blacks and women had to wait longer than others for equality because of societal whims. You then say that democracy is the best from of government because the majority sets the rules.

    But don’t you see that America is NOT a democracy? It is a Constitutional Republic that was founded upon the notion of inalienable rights. Blacks, and possibly women, would have had to wait a helluva lot longer if this were a true democracy, because at the time their equality was affirmed by law, it wasn’t by much of society.

    Marshall’s point is well-taken, I think. Because whether blacks or women were treated equally does not negate the reality that the Constitution requires they be treated equally, and does so independent of another man’s willingness to recognize it.

    It seems to me your argument is with the recognition of inalienable rights by individuals. Whether recognizes or not, they exist (in America, anyway) – at that is the point. Why they exist is another matter and, I think, the question.

  27. TerranceH says:

    Dumb phone.

    My last paragraph should have read:

    It seems to me your argument against the existence of inalienable rights hinges on their being recognized by others. But recognized or not, they exist – at least according to our laws. Why they exist is another matter, but also the question, I think.

  28. TerranceH says:

    Looking back at my previous arguments, I did a poor job using Montesquieu to explain my position. In fact, I think I may have been drinking or something. LOL.

    The nature of a human being is not one of servitude to anything outside of the self. Indentured servitude, slavery, and serfdom are all external and societal developments. They did not develop internally; they are not part of a man’s nature. This is why, I think, liberty can be regarded as a natural right, independent of societal whims.

    And I think because man all came into this world in much the same way – timid, as it were – we are all equal in the same way.

    I accept that the usefulness of these natural rights is in many ways tied to the willingness of society to recognize them, but I think that is a separate argument. The question, as I understand it, is whether the claim to natural rights is reasonable, and if so, why? I think it is a reasonable claim, and for the reasons I and others delineated, and many others.

  29. rautakyy says:

    @TerranceH, I absolutely agree with you that the USA is not an actual democracy and I respect your cander in this matter. In no actual democracy does voting cost anything to the voters. You still have that registration fee, do you not? A nother problem in the US democracy I see, is the lack of support for parties by the state (the people). Political agendas should recieve support from the state, otherwise they will turn into getting their money from other sources, and in that scenario those parties that have the supporters that have more money also have more power. Your major parties have become dependable on the corporate world, and that is a dangerous situation, as it is the nature of corporations to demand benefits from their investments. If they have invested in marketing a certain politician, that politician is in their leash, more than he/she is led by the constituants. The benefits of a corporation of certain nationality may benefit the citizens, but it might just as well not. Look for example your late wars, where the US has fought for natural resources, not to benefit the common citizen, but the major corporations. I realize that this is a nother question alltogether, but it is incorporated in the question of egality. Is the life of a US citizen equal to that of an Iraqi citizen?

    Equality is like any other matter (for example democracy), if it does not exist, it does not exist. You and I may recognize, that it should exist, but if it does not exist in practice, what sort of equality is it? It is the same as saying somebody is a millionare, but if that person has no money, what kind of millionare is he, even though we could agree that out of all people he should be the one to hold much money? And so the real question is why. And it is a question that begs for a reasonable answer, not some arbitrary command from alledged authority, or such.

    You are right that the most pressing force for equality have been secular governments, like that of the US. It might even be, that the reason for their altruism is in how they saw their religious beliefs dictating, that is how things should be. However, in reality, if we want to support the demand for equality, we need to listen to the reason and compassion of our hearts. Never mind if those are given to us by a particular god, or if nature made us that way. Am I making sense to you?

  30. TerranceH says:


    You still have that registration fee, do you not?

    Have you ever read our 24the Amendment?

    Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

    Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

    I appreciate your opinion of the United States, but it’s not pertinent in this discussion for two reasons: (1) one opinion has already been proven wrong and (2) it has no bearing on whether or not natural rights exist.

    Equality is like any other matter (for example democracy), if it does not exist, it does not exist.

    Lofty notions, philosophies, and so on are never tangible. Even written down their usefulness depends on their recognition by others (existence in practice). We all understand that part of your point, I think. But do you understand that your argument merely speaks to their value, not existence?

  31. rautakyy says:

    @TerranceH, no I have not read your any of your amenmends. Those are hardly universally considered as common knowledge. Never the less, I apologize for mixing up your country to some other one.

    Being wrong about one thing does automatically result I am wrong on the other issue. Though, of course I might be. But as you say, that is not this discussion.

    I think I see what you mean, but to some extent I disagree. An ideal may exist beyond coming to practice, but equality is a value, we humans have created to describe an ideal of “fair play”. Without human recognition that value hardly exists, though we do not know do the dolphins, whales, or for example elephants recognize it. All mammals have the basic capabilities for empathy, hence that might just be so. There is a reason why dolphins for example, try to save each other from trouble, if they can, and sometimes even divers. Just like there is a reason why the elephants sometimes protect even the bones of their dead family member. Heck, even moose sometimes do that. I am willing to go even so far that since there are billions and billions of stars in the universe, it is likely that somewhere out there is a nother species or even several, who has evolved in similar style as we have and holds similar capability for empathy for similar reasons as we do as social animals. One day we might develope an A.I. with enough of similar capacity.

    Where does the sort of equality, wich appears only as a principle outside of practice, manifest itself? I’d say when humans give it some value. Like for example, when they demand it, or even when they come to the realization, that they, or some other people are treated unequally. One might even say when a person has a notion that he/she is not treating, or has not treated a nother person equally. Sometimes our past just comes to tell us we have acted wrong, though we did not realize it at the moment, when we committed ourselves to the action, like for example happened to many nazies in the Nürnberg warcrimes tribunal.

    @Dog tags, how can you tell, if Jason has borrowed his morals from Christianity and not for example from Buddhism? I would say his point goes far more closer to Buddhism than that of Christianity. How can you be sure Christianity has not borrowed its morals from some other religions? Does that even matter, if the final conclusion is right?

    How Christianity is represented by those who claim to be its adherents during the last 2000 years is a spitting image of relativist moralism, as you know. Now, most ideologies have people who do not follow the ideals of the actual ideology, but when it is a religion with alledgedly benevolent and omnipotent god as the main point, it really is not making a convincing case.

    Most people are quite capable of living morally without Christianity. Did you not know this? Most people who deem themselves as Christians have no real grasp of what the religious moralism expects of them. And there are so many sects of Christianity, that argue over what is moral and what is not. Why does their god not bother to solve these arguments? In that sense all gods are equal.

  32. There is another equally good question which perhaps needs to be addressed first; that question is with regard to rights.

    We say all people have the right to be equal, but there was once a time (both in the Bible and in more modern history) where that is not what humans believed. The White Colonists from Europe and America clearly saw black people as unequal and below them. So here’s the question:

    Did the black people have the right to be equal even when nobody recognised that right?
    If yes, what does it mean to have a right that no one recognises?

    Alternatively, are rights something we grant? If so, we are made equal by the will of our voting power; we are equal because we granted ourselves the right.

  33. This comment came in via e-mail:

    If you believe in God, then you believe your rights come from God–not man, a king, or government–who are our public servants, not our public masters. Your rights are inherent, you’re born with them, and no man can take them away from you, unless by force, or by your consent. Furthermore, you have a moral obligation to treat each other as you would like to be treated. Its pretty simple, and not too complicated.

    If you don’t believe in God, then perhaps you need to check in with some of the more popular organizations available today, or groups of men, who are no better or no different than you, such as the government–your public servants, or the UN, and ask them what your rights are. But its usually pretty complicated, and not too simple.

    I read carefully over the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights and decided I would rather keep all of my God given rights. Article 30 of the UN’s declaration, the last article, specifically states that you do not have any “right” to object to the UN’s rights that have been granted herein, which pretty much says you’re their slave if you agree to accepting the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights. I know it sounds fancy enough though right, being a declaration and all, but who is the UN to grant us anything? Who is the United States government to grant us anything? They are our public servants. We, the people, grant them privileges, not the other way around.

    I am a stickler for words, and prefer to use only man, or mankind, instead of human, primarily because the original KJV Bible does not contain the word human anywhere in it. But all obsessiveness aside, what makes man equal, is that no man is in authority over another, unless by force or through consent.

    No matter what our individual differences may be, and they are many, mankind shares a single common bond, our desire to be free.

    Without freedom, you can’t do anything–except what you’re told to do.

  34. People are inclined to dominate. Equality is a fairness that is taught that is a teaching likely adopted from a Holy Book. Buy it today or get it from your book rack and read it. It starts with “In the beginning…”

  35. In my opinion, the capacity to experience pain and pleasure is what makes us all equal. I wrote an entry about it: http://formalsystem.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/ethics-series-4-equality-sentience-and-utilitarianism/

    • sato

      So wouldnt that mean that people with a neurological disorder which makes them unable to feel pain, not equal?

      • They might not be able to feel physical pain but it does not mean that they don’t feel b)emotional or/and c)psychological pain.

        • And when then of those who dont feel that kind of pain either?

          Not everyone feels emotional or psychological pain. You havent come to a standard by which we are all equal.

          • “Not everyone feels emotional or psychological pain.” What kind of disorder causes physical, emotional and psychological pain at the same time? I would like to know what the name of this disorder. I say disorder because the the norm among all of us who possess a central nervous system is the capacity to feel pain. The only situation where one lacks a functioning central nervous system is the situation where the interests of a being don’t count, that is, death.

            • What I am saying is there are disorders where people cannot feel physical pain: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/6379795/#.URLQz6X7IxE

              I am also saying there are disorders where people do no feel emotional pain. These two may overlap in some people. Point being that if they do, the person is unable to feel pain. On your standard, they are not an equal member of the human family. Doesn’t that sound strange to you?

              • I told you about a) physical pain, b) emotional pain and c)psychological pain.
                You have only shown a “rare” case where some people don’t feel physical pain. What is the disorder that prevents people from feeling emotional pain? Does it exist? Even if it does and even if it overlaps with physical pain, my point still stands. Any being capable of pain (be it physical or not) is sentient and thus, his interests are equally weighed with other people’s interests. What I said I repeat again, the cessation of pain is pretty much the cessation of awareness itself, “awareness” meaning displaying behaviour in accordance with external and internal stimulus. So any being incapable of sentience should not be counted in.

              • It doesnt matter if the condition is rare. As long as it can happen, on your view they aren’t equal members of the human family. If you allow for exceptions in their case then your requirement of pain isn’t really a requirement. You should rethink your standard. Perhaps something which all human beings share equally, like their human-ness.

  36. As I said, the case where a a human is unable to feel physical pain does not prevent him from feeling emotional and psychological pain. You seem to be assuming that somehow a human cannot feel physical and psychological and emotional pain and still be sentient. As I said again, the type of situation where once is so damaged that is unable to feel any type of pain is a state where one is unable of thinking, having desires and presumably of lacking self-awareness. That type of state known as vegetative state. Such a being is no longer a person. One of the meanings of person refers to the individual who is self-conscious and rational. Any individual in vegetative state is not a person anymore.
    There is no such thing as “human-ness” unless by that term you simply mean “membership to the human species”. But then you can also talk about apeness,etc.. What is so special about all human beings? Apart from what I said, nothing. Any attempt to place human beings in a pedestal will backfire. Also your point sounds like another case of human supremacy.

  37. Jeff Kraus says:

    John Barron says::
    If you believe in God, then you believe your rights come from God–not man, a king, or government–who are our public servants, not our public masters.

    If you believe in the God of the Bible why would you believe in democracy instead of in kings? For much of history the Bible was used to support the authority of kings, see http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_right_of_kings

  38. Lavaish Agarwal says:

    God has given same time & Mind to all the human being, so all human being are equal

  39. Humans are equal only through their CONSCIOUS AWARENESS and acknowledgement of their inherent worth ( the Presence of the indwelling Devine Spark) when live and act accordingly.Because we are all created in the image of God doesn’t guarantee we are all equal.

    • No everyone is conciously aware. What about them? Do we need to earn our equality by attaining some quality? It seems that we can all only be equal if we consider the one and only thing we all share innately: our humanness.

  40. No everyone has a homo sapiens-sized brain. What about them? Do we need to earn our equality by attaining some quality? It seems that we can all only be equal if we consider the one and only thing we all share innately: our apeness.
    Meant to illustrate how irrelevant “humanness” is.
    Does “humanness” just mean “membership to the human species”? That’s as meaningful as talking about apeness?

    • Do you dispute the idea that there is something leaps and bounds beyond that humans have that other animals dont?

      • If you mean the idea that “there is something that humans have and other animals don’t” then yes, I dispute the idea. Metaphysical claims aside, the only thing common to all humans is their membership to the human species. Perhaps you can show me otherwise.

Any Thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: