The Conflict between Liberty and Equality

The term liberty refers to the ability to do what one chooses to, provided he/she does not violate other people or their properties (MacNaughton, 2009). On the other hand, equality means a situation where all people are equal in terms of the opportunities and resources (Glover, 2010). Equality among individuals is rather a vague notion, which is only applicable in law: all persons are equal before the law. Some individuals view liberty as freedom and equality – as fairness. They are of the opinion that without equality, there would be no freedom and if there were no freedom, there would be no equality. This gives rise to the conflicting nature of the two terms.

In fact, the conflicting nature of the two values is accelerated by the fact that both liberty and equality are some of the most recognized human rights in the international law. However, since time immemorial, situations, especially in law, have risen whereby guarantee of either of the values seems to be at the expense of the other. For instance, the freedom to acquire personal property allows some individuals to accumulate large volume of wealth while others are left with nothing. This violates the concept of equality where all persons should have equal access to resources. Similarly, when the concept of equality is applied concerning the acquisition of wealth, it violates individual’s liberty to own personal belongings.

In reference to the recent health care debates and law from Congress, it appears as if the value of equality is being supported more than the value of liberty. This is because the debate revolves around the provision of the best attainable standards of physical and mental health care to all individuals regardless of their social and economic status (MacNaughton, 2009). The bill does not put into consideration the freedom of individuals to access health care depending on their abilities. In my opinion, the government should strive to promote societal equality as opposed to individual liberty. This is because in the long term, the achievement of societal equality will ultimately give rise to individual liberty (Glover, 2010).

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