Principles of Equality, Need and Desert

Topics: Retirement, Inequality, Old age Pages: 3 (657 words) Published: February 13, 2014
EQUALITY -

We could express this principle as:
'Every individual is of equal value and should therefore be treated equally.' This principle could be used to establish that:
'A basic retirement pension should be paid to everyone over the age of 65, irrespective of their financial position.

How might using a principle based upon equality be useful?
• It could be easy to apply as there can be a clear decision about how much each person gets.
• It can speed up decision-making and cut down on administration and fraud.
• Decisions made on this basis can easily be defended against complaints.

What problems might there be in using this principle in this case?
• It may lead to a lack of motivation as you will never merit any more than anyone else.
• It will be more expensive than providing only for the people who need help.
• In many practical ways, people are in fact not equal. To use Aristotle's quaint example, if you are going to distribute flutes, you should give preference to flute players.
• Giving the same to everyone does not produce equality (some people need more help than others to reach the same state).

NEED -

We could express this principle as:
'We ought to distribute to each person according to their need.' This principle could be used to establish that:
'We should provide free care in the community for those elderly people who are less well-off.'

How useful might such a principle be in helping use to make decisions?
• It could help us to allocate our resources in an objective and measurable way.
• It could be seen to be a humane and fair principle to adopt.
• It could help to prevent potentially damaging social divisions between the poor and the better-off. What problems might we have in applying this principle in this case?
• It could prove to be very expensive to provide such free care as the number of elderly people is increasing.
• The elderly who would still have to pat for their care might complain that...
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