The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

We should sacrifice the freedom of the individual to pursue equality.

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Debate Round Forfeited
The_Guy67 has forfeited round #5.
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/9/2018 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 months ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 468 times Debate No: 115310
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (18)
Votes (0)




There are some circumstances in which we sacrifice our individual privileges to improve the situation of most people. I believe we should extend this principle. As a rule, I am willing to err on the side of equality rather than individual liberty.

So why do I say this? All people are born equally. There is also immense suffering brought about in the world as a result of inequality. The role of government is to reduce suffering and allow mankind to enjoy the highest standard of living possible and achieve as much as possible. In order to do this we must sacrifice the luxury liberties of a few privileged people to allow the majority and the marginalised to succeed in a world which is stacked against them.

Also you can't be free if you don't have equality. Freedom does not exist in a vacuum. A country cannot be free if half the population are slaves to the other half. Therefore in that case we must sacrifice the freedom of the masters to take slaves in order to bring about equality for all so that slaves can be free in the first place.

Freedom is good. But it is a luxury that most people do not need in order to lead a happy and fulfilling life. However, equality is a necessity in order to have a just and fair society without immense levels of suffering.

We should sacrifice individual liberty to pursue equality.


Hi LoveRichardDawkins, I'm looking forward to the debate. :)

First of all, I'd like to dispute the idea that inequality brings immense suffering. Poverty is what brings suffering, not inequality. For example, if I owned my house and had a job that could support my family, but you were ultra-wealthy and had all the same things as me plus a mansion and a private plane, it wouldn't cause me immense suffering. (The worst it could do is make me jealous.)

So now the question becomes this:
How do we decrease poverty, and "allow mankind to enjoy the highest standard of living possible and achieve as much as possible"?

A good place to start answering this question would be to take a look at the list countries with the highest standard of living on earth. Now, most of these countries are welfare states, meaning they have high taxes and pretty equal institutions, (everyone gets free healthcare and universities are free or cheap, for example), but they maintain a market economy. This means that, necessarily, there are Danish tycoons and rich Swedes that are much more rich than other people in their respective countries. There is still inequality.

To get to a point of complete equality we would need to abolish the market. Historically, countries that did this (like the USSR, China, and Cuba) had a much lower quality of life than capitalist countries with a market economy. This is because when you abolish the market, someone has to decide what work everyone will do. This someone is generally the government, which tends to be a LOT less efficient than companies who have to compete with other companies in a free market. The lower material wealth that results from this inefficiency lead to poverty, and therefore to suffering. Plus, when your freedom to choose in what profession you want to work in is taken away, and you're forced to work in something you don't like, that kind of gets in the way of leading a happy and fulfilling life.

Pursuing complete equality at the expense of personal liberty only leads to suffering. It's better to give up on the quest for complete equality and look for a healthy balance between equality and liberty.
Debate Round No. 1


So I'll start with rebutting what you just said. So first we heard this idea that inequality does not bring about suffering poverty does. Well this is a bit disingenuous. Poverty is brought about because of inequality in many cases. Take the USA for example. Look at high poverty rates among african americans. Why is this the case? This is due to the large amount of discrimination and both current and historical racism Black americans faced. By very definition, this is a case where racial inequality brought about poverty and hence suffering. The same is true for the problems women face in the world today. Take the gender pay gap. This is a clear case of work place gender inequality that has lead to the suffering of millions of women all over the world. Unsurprisingly, most of the poverty we see in the world today is due to inequality of opportunity. If a kid in a slum had the same prospects others in education, healthcare etc. then both they and others like them would not be in such poverty. You cannot and should not argue that inequality is not a significant cause of suffering-it is.
Anyway, I find it interesting how the only inequality you discussed was wealth inequality. Racial, religious, gender and sexual orientation inequality are huge problems too. You must prove why ignoring this is OK as long as a some people retain their privileges.
Interesting that you spoke about the free market as if the free market is the only way you can have high standards of living. Without explaining why, you gave some dodgy examples-USSR (classic), China, Cuba. You said they have a low standard of living. These examples are completely unfair because the situations in these countries are influenced by so many other things than just socialism. Take the USSR - what a surprise that it had a lower standard of living than the US. Well guess what - so did Imperial Russia, which, by the way, had a free market. If that was its starting point its hardly surprising that by 1991 it was poorer than the USA, and yet still richer than most countries, many capitalist, interestingly. Then you have to consider the impact of WWII, the Cold War, tariffs on all goods, the cost of all the proxy wars , the eastern bloc and corruption. Same for China and Cuba. But China seems to be heading in a much better direction than others and has much more equality.
So, economic freedom has nothing to do with bringing about less poverty. It depends on the individual circumstances of each economy. Inequality is also a huge driver of suffering and poverty and its not just social inequality. Also inequality is morally wrong (shocking). We don't need freedom to have less suffering. Yet, we need more equality to have less suffering for all. Since you mentioned that 1st world countries are highly developed and yet have inequality I want to ask: does that mean inequality in places like Sweden is not a problem? Surely inequality in Sweden should still be solved by reducing freedom for a small few?


I'll start where I agree with you - that no one should be treated differently than anyone else because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, sex, or any trait that is irrelevant to the matter they would be discriminated against. Racial and sex discrimination is definitely a problem, but one that will be solved by the gradual enlightenment of the public. It is not a quest towards equality where we must sacrifice freedom.
But still you frame problems of poverty as problems of inequality, where inequality is a side effect poverty, but not its cause. Take, for example, the hypothetical kid in a slum you mentioned in your argument. His suffering and poverty could be relieved if he had sufficient prospects in education and healthcare, regardless of the level of wealth in surrounding communities. When you say that inequality is the problem, you are saying (by definition) that if the communities surrounding the slum were poor as well, making him and other communities completely equal, somehow he either wouldn't be poor and therefore wouldn't suffer, or that the suffering from his poverty would magically go away. This is ridiculous.
A place where you are completely incorrect is economics - there is a general consensus among economists that free markets are more efficient than planned economies.
You say that China has more equality than others, and so seems to be heading in a much better direction. The fact of the matter is, however, that the level of equality in China has gone down considerably after it adopted free market reforms in the 70s. It went from a Gini coefficient of 0.16 in 1978 to 0.474 in 2012!* This is on a scale where 0 is complete equality (what you advocate) and 1 is complete inequality. While this was happening China's economy suddenly started growing at around 10% a year without any other changes happening that could explain it's sudden growth.
As for the Soviet Union, it only had a gdp per capita that approached developed capitalist countries (many of whom were also devastated by wars) only in the 80s and 90s, by when it had developed an expansive black market called the "second economy" that was essentially just an unregulated market economy.
This is strong evidence for the superiority of the free market over planned economy in economic success.
As for the moral argument - of course inequality is morally wrong, but so is restricting peoples freedoms, which you would have to do a lot of in order to get complete equality. And the restriction of peoples freedom definitely causes suffering. A perfect example is something that actually happened in some Israeli socialist communities. They wanted the kids to be raised completely equally so they had all of the kids live with and be raised by a small group of educators. This caused immense suffering to the kids and parents who were separated, and the practice was quickly discontinued after they found out kids had PTSD.

Debate Round No. 2


You agree with me over that main point and responded saying that we should solve the problem with "gradual enlightenment of the public". There you concede the problem: it's "gradual". This is not good enough. The injustices that are around today must not be solved gradually. We need real action now. Your solution could work but it relies on a long uncertain period of time. I don't believe is fair to those that are suffering under the current system. I propose a state of action - things like affirmative action and diversity quotas. These quotas do bring about more racial, gender etc. equality.We have to sacrifice the freedom of companies to choose the applicants they want in order to bring about this equality. However, since the undeniable increase in equality we get in the end this is a morally right decision. So we do need to sacrifice freedom to have more racial, gender etc. equality.
Next you are guilty of false representation with the example of the kid in a slum. You claim that in order to bring about equality, my model proposes making everyone equally poor as the kid. No - it's a classic conservative fallacy. Rather I propose we redistribute the wealth of a privileged few amongst people like that kid. Therefore yes some people will be worse off but most people will be better off. Of course I don't think we should all be equally poor. We should redistribute. Also even using taxes to set up education and free healthcare would help that kid, giving him equal opportunity. This model infringes upon the liberty of the rich to keep their wealth. Therefore, their liberty must be limited to bring about more equality. My model still works.
As for the economy. I reject your suggestion of this "economic consensus". What consensus? The only consensus is amongst conservative economists. Keynes, Gray, Michael Albert, Jaroslav Vanek-all respected economists who support more socialisation. Also, a consensus does not mean truth. China is very interesting. You said there is increased inequality-true. But it's still no where near as much as in Anglo-sphere economies like the US and Uk. Also in China there is equal access to education and healthcare unlike in capitalist countries. Even in capitalist economies like the US (the most capitalist in the world) there are levels of socialisation and redistribution. In fact, China only has more inequality because of the free market so by your own admission we need to curtail freedom to get equality. China also grew at such a rate because tariffs on it dropped and the there was an upturn in the world economy. So it's unfair to frame the free market as the sole cause of growth when there are so many other influences. The USSR damaged much more by war than any capitalist economy.

So, socialist economies can work. But, capitalism guarantees inequality without government action. My proposal is moral as the lack of suffering and poverty in the end for the many outweighs the limitation of small freedom for the few.


We are trying to solve the problem of discrimination. The root of this problem lies within people's minds, so if you want to solve it you would have to change the way people think. This can only happen gradually. I can't really respond to your suggestion of affirmative action and diversity quotas as they lack context - do you mean affirmative action in education? diversity quotas in the job market? There are a million different ways you can implement these policies - some could be beneficial and others downright crazy. Generally, though, I think it is a bit naive to think that you can quickly solve problems of discrimination. There just isn't a way to change people's conceptions of the world quickly.

I'd like some sources about serious economists advocating for the abolishment of the free market, and letting all economic planning and property be distributed by the government. (This is what I was arguing against.) I don't know the other economists, but I do know that Keynes advocated for temporary increases in government spending in order to stimulate the economy. From this I infer that he supported market economies, which, as I said, inevitably cause inequality.

Regarding China - First of all, China dropped tariffs. Tariffs are not like embargos. They are self imposed policies that tax imports. The drop of tariffs was PART OF China's embrace of the open market. They were not seperate phenomena. This embracing of the open market was what caused it to succeed economically (this is supported by the International Monetary Fund:
The upturn in the world economy affected every country, not just China. But only China grew at an amazing rate. (This growth didn't stop even after the upturn in the world economy ended - proving the upturn wasn't a significant factor in the Chinese economy's success.)

This caused the emergence of a Chinese middle class (the vast majority of Chinese people were poor before they made markets free) and reduced suffering much more effectively than their old socialist system.

I would also like to clarify that I am not against any and all levels of socialization. I even spoke highly of Nordic countries and welfare states. What I am against is COMPLETE* equality, because to attain that is to abolish market economies. This would hurt people economically and greatly increase their suffering.

Suffering is best relieved by capitalist economies with good welfare - and once you don't have suffering you don't have much justification to take away people's freedoms.

*how do you use bold and italics?
Debate Round No. 3


Let's be clear. This debate is about how to bring about more equality. I am arguing that in order to do this you have to reduce freedom and that this is a good thing. I have never argued for complete equality of outcome. Equality of outcome as I said before is 'preferable but not essential' but equality of opportunity is a must in order to have a just and meritocratic society. This we do not currently have by any stretch of the imagination. The clue is in the motion "pursue equality". Never did it say "achieve absolute equality of outcome". This is undoubtedly impossible. I argue throughout this debate that I want more equality and I'm willing to sacrifice liberties in order to achieve this. I'm not calling for the abolition of the free market entirely but merely that Governments should impose restriction and use affirmative action in the work place and in universities to get diversity and fairness into our society. In that way we can give all people equal opportunity. This is pursuing equality. As for our discussion over socialism I used this to point out that it is possible to achieve more equality of opportunity under a more restrictive less free society. This has been shown in many countries. The UK is significantly more egalitarian than the US and the UK exercises less freedom and more positive discrimination. So just to clear up yes I do believe in having general capitalist freedoms but I am prepared to limit that freedom to an extent to achieve more fairness. This does obey the motion.
Next you argue that the root cause of inequality is discrimination. Your'e right. However, we can and should do both. We can fight the root cause through education etc. but the reality is that this takes time and therefore not only do we need to address the cause of inequality but also the symptoms. Its all well and good to tell African Americans that we're educating society about racism but the reality is that racism still exists and it is still negatively affecting them in the work place at school, university etc. Racism is a pernicious disease that is inherent in humans and civilisation. Therefore the symptoms need to be tackled as well as the cause of those symptoms. That is why affirmative action is necessary and that means curtailing freedom which under my motion is a reasonable course of action because not tackling it is immoral and is complicit in upholding oppression and suffering of many people for the benefit of a few.
Once again with China, tariffs were dropped on it by other countries. This is an existential action not reliant on more freedom. Also China had a poorer starting position than others so it's not a fair example to use. If we want to be scientific in our evidence we need to use a scientific method (aka a fair test).
Under my motion I have never argued for tyrannical communism and complete equality. I have said that I want as much fairness as possible. This is done by limiting freedom within reason which is a moral thing to do.


Ah, well in that we are actually in agreement more or less. I agree that we should implement equality of opportunity as much as possible (although the idea of not allowing any inheritance, and forcing everyone to have equal schooling - extreme examples of equality - seem like too much to me.)
In the first comments before the debate though, you said you wanted "perfect equality" - which includes equality of outcome this is what I was arguing against - this is why I was arguing against it.
[Correction - I think you meant to say the debate is about when we should or shouldn't sacrifice freedom for equality like it says in the title.]

Regarding China - (we can't seem to stop talking about them, huh) what do you have to say about the link I gave you? I am just repeating myself at this point, but even if other countries dropped tarriffs its not enough to explain China's economic growth. The IMF agrees that economic liberalization was the reason for China's growth:
And you can't devise a fair test on countries because you can't practically simulate large economies. If you could economics would be more like physics than sociology in the accuracy of it's predictions.

Generally, the devil is in the details regarding government policy. We would have to go into detail to see if a policy is just, and see the extent to which freedom is sacrificed for equality,

Sorry for the short answer - I only got to this debate late and time is almost running out for me to send it in, so it is incomplete.
Debate Round No. 4


When I say perfect equality I mean that of opportunity. The title refers to PURSUING this goal. Furthermore, if we can achieve equality of opportunity which I'm sure you agree we don't have at the moment then that should actually bring us very close to parity of outcome as people will all have the equal ability to pursue success. I argue throughout that limiting freedom in order to reach this point is reasonable and achievable. For the likes of disabled people I am even in favour of bringing in quotas for them in the workplace to make sure that their disability doesn't affect their outcome. For me this is a reasonable sacrifice of the freedom of company bosses and makes sense for society. I also do think equality of outcome is desirable however in my definition I made clear before the debate started that I believed we should sacrifice liberty to an extent which is reasonable and justifiable in order to get as close to this as possible. This of course does not mean going on a Maoist rampage and murdering every rich person to make us all equally poor.

Talking about China I did read your attached article. The IMF is mixed in its conclusions. It gets a lot of things wrong (Brexit etc.) Anyway, as you admitted yourself: "you can't devise a fair test on countries because you can't practically simulate large economies. If you could economics would be more like physics than sociology in the accuracy of it's predictions." so IT IS wrong to make conclusions about economic policy in ALL cases like some kind of "general theorem". Regarding China, its starting position was terrible. It suffered famines and existential tariffs over nukes and Tibet etc. furthermore the west saw industrial collapse which transferred a lot of the market to China. China also has remained a largely socialist economy so equally this is to blame for the negatives as well as the economic growth.

In conclusion my side has won this debate because I've shown that individuals' freedom is not only monopolised by the few that are actually able to have it but also that it is not limitless. We have caps on freedom. Fundamentally, the role of government is to allow everyone to live in a just and fair society so they can achieve their best. Considering this denying them parity with the privileged in order to preserve the injustice and power monopoly of a few is immoral. Equality of opportunity under a more socialist system is workable. It may not be perfect but it can work and in the cases it has failed this has equally been to do with western interference and deliberate attack upon that system e.g. the Cold war. Humans are born equally (although obviously different) and therefore equality of opportunity is a right. Given this equality of outcome is the next achievable goal which we should come close to anyway. The status quo gives rights to some and denies it to others limiting others freedoms and upholding a global oppression which has led to injustice and suffering for many.

Vote YES.
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Debate Round No. 5
18 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by icebeartheawesome 1 month ago
Posted by mosc 1 month ago
The Preamble of the Constitution: We the folks of the United States hold these truths as self evident: that Man has the right to pursue life liberty and wealth.
Posted by mosc 1 month ago
Who is the "We" in the Title? American would be brain dead stupid to abandon the Constitution of the United States, which obviously includes the Bill of Rights.
Posted by The_Guy67 1 month ago
Throughout the debate we have been arguing different things - I agree with maximizing freedom of opportunity. However, as you said in your previous argument and throughout the debate, you believe in sacrificing freedom for equality of outcome, not just opportunity. This should be limited as much as possible. Of course, if the outcome is that someone doesn't have enough to eat, or will die unless he/she gets surgery he/she cant afford we should sacrifice freedom if it gets them what they need, but the sacrifice of liberty for equality should be limited to loss of life and serious injury. In other cases, such as racial discrimination in universities and colleges, using methods like hiding applicant's racial identity, or having only members of a disadvantaged group process members of that group*, would be better policies that achieve equality of opportunity and meritocracy. This, however, would not guarantee equality of outcome, but be better overall.
I never argued that you meant to kill every rich person, merely that the adoption of socialist policies has a tendency to make everyone more equal, but risks increasing suffering by making people poorer.

This is the point which I was making with China. I didn't see where they said that the results were mixed. If anything they said that China's openness to trade helped it succeed. I invite the audience to take a look for themselves:
(If you don't have the time to read through the whole thing press Ctrl + F and search 'Conclusion'. Reading is recommended, though.)

Equality of opportunity should be a goal for our society, but I won this argument in saying that further sacrifices of our right to freedom once everyone has equal opportunity is morally wrong and can harm the economy - thereby increasing suffering, which should be avoided more than anything.

NO is the rational choice.

* For example, African Americans would process African Americ
Posted by LoveRichardDawkins 2 months ago
PS: I don't know how to use bold and italics. Sorry. It would be great if I could.
Posted by mosc 2 months ago
your link does not work.
Posted by movie123 2 months ago
Watch Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Full Movie HD

Posted by mosc 2 months ago
@TheUnexaminedLife: " I agree that a working man often works just as hard as a CEO" ... In the 1880s the post Civil War Supreme Court ruled that Corporations are People! Bunk. Citizens who favor State economic autonomy from Washington; who despise the Corporate lobby corruption of Washington, together with the establishment of the Federal bureaucracies which protect the patronage established Corporate monopolies by means of these corrupt Federal bureaucracies which regulate all industry and trade within the United State in order to protect the domination of the market share by these vile Corporate monopolies - originally established by Washington - examples being the Federal Reserve, the industrial military complex, and the collectivization of small farm lands therein establishing the domination of farm produce by the huge farm Corporations - that both the Corporate monopolies and the Federal bureaucracy which protect them, that both abominations responsible Government should break them and terminate their unfair domination of the US markets.
Posted by mosc 2 months ago
@TheUnexaminedLife "All people are not born equally" Exactly! None citizens of the US do not have Constitutional rights protected by the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution. "All individuals ought to be given a civil equality of opportunity in their specific cultural groupings to develop themselves and use social resources in competition with others. " No. All citizens ought to enjoy the benefits of US citizenship. Foreign alien ilegal refugees have no such benefits or rights.

@canis: ""equality" can not be relativated" No foreign aliens merit no Constitutional protections.

@ LoveRichardDawkins: "When I say the minimum amount of liberty to gain equality I mean the minimum number of rights we have a citizens in order to get as close to equality as possible. " According to the founding fathers - they limited the franchise to citizens who have the right to vote, ie white, male, land owners. This franchise the Yankee victors of the Civil War have significantly enlarged in favor of a democracy over a Republic. Only flaw in this Hamiltonian error: democracy its not found not in the Declaration of Independence nor in the Constitution of the United States! The post Civil War Yankees who have dreams of a Pax American Empire through imperialism and foreign invasions of other countries and undermined the intent of the Framers of the Constitution, specifically Jefferson's hope for the States within the Union to experience economic autonomy from a all powerful big brother Central government in Washington!
Posted by LoveRichardDawkins 2 months ago
Once again all you've done is pointed out differences and not why that makes one human better than any other
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