Double standards – is a term that reverberates loudly in discussions about ethics, fairness, and justice. They represent an inconsistent application of principles, leading to skewed perceptions and unequal treatment of individuals based on arbitrary differences.
But why is a consistent application of principles so vital, and what are the perils of embracing double standards?
Double standards are not only a contradiction in terms but a threat to the very fabric of a civilized society. At their core, they undermine respect for intrinsic human dignity, treating individuals unequally based on arbitrary distinctions. Double standards threaten the bedrock principles of our democratic society and economy. When present in a democracy, they echo the dehumanizing repercussions often seen in unchecked capitalist systems. As we explore the dangers of embracing double standards, the interplay between democratic ideals and economic structures becomes evident.
The Inherent Injustice
Double standards lead to inequitable judgments or treatments under similar circumstances. This inherent contradiction can erode trust and lead to resentment or marginalization among those mistreated.
For instance, a 2017 study published in the Journal of Business Ethics found that employees who perceive double standards in their workplace exhibited lower job satisfaction and higher turnover intentions
Erosion of Democratic Foundations results in decay of civilized society
Civilized societies are founded on principles of equity, respect, and the acknowledgment of everyone’s inherent dignity. Double standards poison these foundational elements, leading to divisions and societal unrest. Double standards contradict these ideals, sidelining certain voices based on arbitrary criteria. They perpetuate the notion that some individuals are more deserving of respect or rights than others – an idea fundamentally at odds with the ideals of justice and equality.
The Impact on Credibility
Double standards can rapidly deplete the credibility of individuals, institutions, or systems that uphold them, especially in leadership roles. According to a survey by the Harvard Business Review, consistent treatment was one of the top characteristics employees valued in their leaders. Inconsistent treatment, or the perception thereof, can erode faith in leadership, challenging effective management or governance.
When democratic double standards align with the dehumanizing tendencies in capitalist economies, marginalized communities suffer the most.
On a societal scale, double standards can perpetuate stereotypes and systemic biases, impacting marginalized communities the most.
For instance, research has shown that media often portrays similar behaviors differently based on gender, race, or ethnicity, leading to reinforced stereotypes.
The Capitalist Parallel
Drawing from multiple references mentioned in the footnotes of this article, a conscientious socio-economist delving deeper into sociopolitical theory can easily integrate the relationship between double standards in democracy and dehumanizing effects in a capitalist economy.
Capitalist economies, particularly in their more laissez-faire iterations, can sometimes prioritize profit over people, leading to dehumanizing effects. The parallels with double standards are clear. Both create and perpetuate unequal power structures. For instance, the work of Thomas Piketty in “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” highlights the widening wealth gaps in capitalist economies and how these can perpetuate power imbalances.
The Case for Consistency
Being consistent in one’s values and judgments:
- Builds Trust: Consistency fosters a predictable and stable environment, creating a sense of security and trust.
- Promotes Fairness: Applying the same standards across the board ensures everyone is judged based on their actions, not arbitrary characteristics.
- Enhances Credibility: Individuals and institutions that uphold consistent values and standards are often seen as more reliable and credible.
To truly uphold the values of a civilized society and respect for inherent human dignity, we must shun double standards. Embracing consistency is ethically correct and essential for maintaining trust, credibility, and overall societal harmony. The clarion call is clear: champion “Consistency over Contradiction” and ensure fairness in all our dealings.
 Holtz, B. C., & Harold, C. M. (2017). Fair today, fair tomorrow? A longitudinal investigation of overall justice perceptions. Journal of Business Ethics, 146(3), 667-683.
 Zenger, J., & Folkman, J. (2019). The behaviors that employees find most irritating in leaders. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from [HBR Website].
 Dixon, T. L., & Linz, D. (2000). Overrepresentation and underrepresentation of African Americans and Latinos as lawbreakers on television news. Journal of Communication, 50(2), 131-154.
 Piketty, T. (2014). Capital in the Twenty-First Century Harvard University Press.