impartiality Various *ideologies—including some *religions, *animal *rightists, and the *politically correct—interpret partial treatment as in some way inherently immoral and unjust. It is true that *morality and *justice require a form of impartiality. But the sense in which they do is that any such rules must be applied without any bias that flouts the rules themselves. Thus if the rule is that theft is wrong or unjust, then one cannot consistently make exceptions such as for oneself or for an *organization such as the *state. Pure impartiality, as with pure *toleration, makes no sense: one must first have a rule or principle toward which one is partial. And all rules *discriminate in some way, so discrimination cannot be inherently unjust or immoral unless there are to be no rules (which risks falling into paradox: a rule against rules).

For instance, to hold that it is immoral to kill *persons but not immoral to kill non-persons (including other animals) does not flout moral impartiality despite being partial to persons. Nor does impartiality as such require that, 1) there be *objective criteria for differences in treatment, 2) all persons are treated as *equals in any way, or 3) any differences in their treatment must be deserved. I may simply choose to favour someone with something that he does not deserve (my patronage, a gift, a job, or whatever) without thereby being immoral or unjust. In fact, being partial to some, such as family and friends, can be morally admirable and even a *duty.

See *fairness; *prejudice.

A Dictionary of Libertarianism