Should we deny biological differences?
Some people are inclined to minimize, or even deny, biological differences between groups because they feel that ensures equal rights for all. Others counter that that’s a misguided view, that equal rights do not require that we all be the same genetically. They point out, further, that science may eventually prove without a shred of doubt that indeed there are average between-group genetic differences that may affect life outcomes to some degree, and that an ethical framework based on the presumed innate sameness of all would then collapse and possibly lead to “scientifically justified” discrimination.
In reality, equal rights do depend on biology to a great extent: biology is the reason we don’t extend human rights to, say, ants, rabbits and kangaroos. And biology is what makes all people so very much the same, that we can conclude, rightly, that everyone — regardless of sex, gender and ethnicity — should have equal rights.
However, that our biological differences are considered so trivial that they should be altogether irrelevant with regard to human rights is a subjective assessment, and as such subject to change. This could apply to other species too. For example, one could argue that humans and chimps are not sufficiently different to justify not granting chimps rights equal to ours. The reason we are not inclined to do so is grounded in biology. We understand that the biology of chimps precludes them from having the level of sentience and intelligence particular to humans, so we conclude that it would be absurd to grant them equal rights. But this is a subjective assessment as well — a moral sentiment that could well evolve towards either more or fewer rights for chimps.
Hence the fear on the part of well-meaning people of our biological differences, and the reason why they often resort to all kinds of mental contortions to show that they don’t or can’t exist. Their strategy, though, should not be to stubbornly deny the possibility of any such differences—to deny the biology—but to stress that our similarities are so fundamental, and our differences so negligible with respect to what makes us human, to our inherent worth, that equal rights, treatment and opportunities for all is the only sensible position. Let’s embrace the biology, and celebrate that it has not made us, by any stretch, different enough to justify discrimination of any sort.