social equality

Certain problems are wider importance which concern common people in general and intellectuals in particular. Social Equality, Self-Knowledge and Rationality are such issues which involve any self-conscious person and specialists in other disciplines like political science, sociology, social psychology etc. Philosophical understanding of these issues are different other disciplines as philosophy look into the most fundamental conditions and reasons, which constitute these problems.


According to Prof. D.D. Raphall, “ The right to equality is a right to the equal satisfaction of the basic needs, including the needs to develop and use capacities which are specifically human.”

According to Karl Marx, “ From according to his need to according to his ability.”


  • Absence of Special Rights
  • Equal Opportunities for Development
  • Fulfillment of Basic Needs
  • Provision of Inequality in Certain Conditions
  • Provision of Equal Rights
  • The Fruit according to ability and handwork
  • Equality is the basis of freedom , justice and rights in some forms
  • Complete equality is impossible
  • Concerned government is the custodian of equality
  • Equality saves Democracy


Human Society is the well-organized unity of individuals. All individuals live in a society because they can’t live in isolation. To live with others is the very nature of human beings and that is what makes them social animals. Every individual seeks protection from society and society gives in return.

It is a fact that in human society, not every person gets equal status and respect due to economic, educational and political powers etc. A social problem arises when some individuals or a group is debarred from normal social respectability due to certain reasons for which the individual or the group is not directly responsible.

Causes for Social Inequality

The problem of Social Inequality arises when society declares a group of people as low or despised due to the reason based on its tradition and conventions ignoring the fact that for what the members of that group is made unequal with other members is not within their control, and this injustice could be seen as injustice and immorality only when it is looked at from the stand point of universal equality of all mankind.


Discrimination of a group of people on the ground of their caste is one of the monstrous instances of social inequality. In India where the Hindu society is divided on caste basis, people of Shudra case are deemed as lowly who are born to serve the other upper caste people and to lead a life of humiliation by them.

Textual Proofs of Caste Discrimination

There are textual proofs in support of the view that the Varna system of the division of people in various groups was a kind of division of labour and it was not tied to the birth of the person in a particular family. It is also argued that movement from one Varna to the other was permissible in early Vedic period. However, it is a cruel fact of the day that people are divided in Hindu society along caste lines and even now inter caste marriages are not liked even within the society. Inter caste movement is only a matter of mythology.

The Law of Karma

Humiliating the so-called low caste people have been deemed as a matter of right for the upper caste people and the lower caste people are told to suffer all that as punishment of the evil karmas of past life due to which they were born in that caste. This is a clear example of social inequality which comes into being due to rigid caste system.


Bhakti movement helped in alleviating the suffering of the lower caste people to some extent. In the post independent India discrimination on the basis of caste was declared as a serious offence by the constitution and several political measure were adopted for the well-being of the people of low caste (especially the Shudras) and to restore their social equality. The problem of social inequality turns out to be a socio-political matter.

At the general level the problem of caste injustice is a case of social injustice that makes us aware of the need to question and evaluate every social law in the light of universal standard of morality which is applicable and obligatory for all human beings and for human communities.


Philosophical reflection looks at this problem at a deeper level and enables us in understanding that it should be dealt with at two levels at the most general level as a problem of social injustice and at the specific level of reflection over the conscience of the socio-political measures adopted for its remedy .

Without taking into consideration this essential moral aspect adopting any measure to solve the problem of social inequality of caste is itself an immoral act. Hence to adopt appropriate measure for solving this problem at the specific level also moral aspect has to be taken into consideration and that requires philosophical reflection. This is a different matter that ordinarily politicians and social scientist don’t give importance to that aspect but there is a scope of philosophical reflection and it is warranted too.


Political and sociological reflections on the questions of social equality are needed to understand and solve these problems at the historical level. Philosophical reflection not only helps in considering the moral aspect of the problem but also discloses the pros and cons of the political and social measures in terms of their proximate and remote consequences and enables to evaluate many of the unquestioned political and sociological assumptions regarding the structure and relation of society with the group of individuals within it.


Notes were taken from H.P. Sah, “ Problems of Philosophy”, Philosophy (BA Ist), USOL, 2009-2010, pp. 06-14.

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