The double standard is something many of us know all too well, but it's also an issue with serious ethical implications. Explore these, and test your understanding with an unbiased, single-standard quiz.
Okay, here's how this is going to work. If you are viewing this lesson from a laptop, you're awesome and will automatically pass the quiz at the end. If you're viewing this on a desktop, then, sorry, you're lame. Also, you can't take the quiz, and you are going to fail it. Okay, now does that seem fair? Of course not! It's totally unfair!
What I just did was create a double standard, an arbitrary use of different rules for the same situation. Whether you are viewing this on a laptop or a desktop computer should not have any impact on your ability to retain this information, so my decision to favor people on a laptop is arbitrary. Also, biased, since I do not personally own a desktop. Just a laptop. Anyway, my point is that regardless of how you're viewing this, you still have to take the quiz, and that double standards come with some serious ethical concerns.
Let's start with the most fundamental set of ethical concerns when it comes to the double standard, and that's basic human rights. Ever since the end of WWII, human rights have become more and more of an active concern for the world, partly because of issues like the double standard. Men can vote, while women cannot. It is acceptable for people from one religion to live in a neighborhood but not others. People of one ethnicity have to pay extra taxes, while others pay less. These are all examples of double standards that have been used to enforce serious discrimination around the world.
What really makes the people in each group different? Prejudice - that's it. So, the decision to give more rights or freedoms to one group over another is arbitrary and therefore unethical.
This is where the idea of human rights really comes in. The foundational belief about human rights is that certain rights apply to all people and cannot be removed. The double standard certainly violates that belief by assuming that some people deserve more rights than others. So, what are the basic rights that all people deserve?
Well, after WWII, the newly-created United Nations set up a commission to answer that question, and in 1948, they published the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document to define the rights of every person in the world. Article 1, at the very beginning, states that 'All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.' So, from the get-go, what do we see? Double standards, whether they are applied on a national scale or something more local, inherently violate the most fundamental human rights.
Law and Ethics
The issue of human rights is a major ethical question. However, the double standard can be ethically problematic in more ways than one. Another major issue is the law. Have you ever seen a statue of justice? You know, the blindfolded lady in a toga holding scales and a sword. Do you know why she's blindfolded? Because the law should be applied equally to every single person, that's why. It shouldn't matter if you're rich or poor, gay or straight, religious or atheist, male or female, as long as you are a human being.
So, not only does the double standard violate our ideas about human rights, it also violates the basic principles of our modern legal system. A double standard means that not everyone is equal before the law nor is the law unbiased. Instead, it means that some people are protected, while others are not. So, the double standard is actually a fairly serious concern, and one that many people in the world today are still addressing.
Even in the United States, this has been an issue. Women couldn't vote until 1920, African Americans didn't have true political rights until the 1960s, and gay marriage wasn't recognized until 2015. Whether it's a national concern or just something in a single classroom, the double standard goes against what we believe in as a society. Now, isn't that just a pie in the face?
The double standard is an arbitrary use of different rules for the same situation. Holding different people to different standards raises some very serious ethical concerns, so this is something we generally try to avoid. In terms of human rights, the double standard violates the fundamental belief that all people are entitled to certain rights and cannot be removed, as upheld by the UN's internationally-recognized Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Beyond that, the double standard also violates the ideas behind our modern legal system, such as the belief that everyone has equal protection under the law. The double standard is generally deemed unethical, regardless of whether it's a national policy or something just between people in a small group. So, in the interest of fairness and adherence to a single standard, now you all get to take a quiz, regardless of what type of computer you have. See that? Single standard. You're welcome.
Ethical Implications of the Double Standard Overview
Human Rights and Nelson Mandela
||an arbitrary use of different rules for the same situation
|Universal Declaration of Human Rights
||a document to define the rights of every person in the world
When this lesson is completed, students should have the confidence to:
- Define double standard
- Give examples of the action of double standards at work
- Identify the Universal Declaration of Human Rights