“We do not support the notion of discrimination. But you have to distinguish between people.”
These were the words of the Archbishop of Westminster in response to the Pope’s comments on the proposed equality legislation in the UK (reported by the Guardian).
Note the slipperiness of language. In its non-pejorative sense, discrimination does mean distinguishing between people or things, but the more popular usage makes discrimination a thing to be discouraged: distinguishing with the aim of unjustly favouring some over others. I am discriminating in the movies I watch. There is no question of injustice here. The Glenn Miller Story is clearly the greatest movie of all time. But if I discriminate in the people I offer jobs to, it’s reasonable to ask what my criteria are, and whether they are just or unjust.
The problem is that we have four broad versions of justice, not one, and these versions are at odds with one another. In fact they define themselves in relation to the others, so that my version of justice is specifically not yours. Continue reading