Anywho we started talking about the word discrimination. "To discriminate" actually is a complex Janus word because it not only has a neutral meaning (being able to distinguish between various objects or concepts – value neutral) but it has two covert value meanings (1. Neg. to let irrelevant factors count in some circumstance and Pos. to let all and only relevant factors count). The Negative meaning we all recognize when people don't allow people to be hired based on gender or racial differences. The positive we recognize as connoisseurs – people who have discriminating taste for wine or cheese. As an example of all this he held up this dilemma:
We expect judges to be unbiased in their judgements. We could say they should not discriminate (racist judges would not last long in our system) in their judgements. But in another sense we could say that judges should be discriminating in their judgements (here we mean that the judge should weigh all and only the relevant information about the case to make a precise decision). We would ask judges to care about everyone involved equally – so as to be an impartial judge. But the judge could not be impartial if either the defendant to the prosecution was his/her daughter – we would ask that judge to recuse him/herself for that case. So we could see that it would be ridiculous to expect a parent to not care more for their own kids than for other people in the courtroom. Or in our neighbourhood for instance let's say that Char and I had only $100 dollars for food. You would expect us to spend that hundred on groceries for our own kids. You would look at us weird if we were to decide to divide that money between all the children in our neighbourhood (not to mention that if we really didn't want to discriminate we might consider sharing it with ever kid in the whole world).
Enter the teachings of Christ. Love your neighbour as yourself. Is this to be taken literally? We would say yes? Stuck? Well maybe but then our prof goes on to suggest that God (the supreme judge in Christianity) was definitely not impartial. He chose and paid special attention to the Jews. Our prof then asked if we could really suggest that God was just. He pointed out that one of the central messages of Jesus was captured in the parable of the Good Samaritan yet historically according to the Biblical account God seemed to anything but impartial. So there you go. Wrestle with that one. See if you can come up with some counter proposals or other arguments – just curious how you might respond to that.