Is there a better word than "equity" to describe fairness, equal rights and inclusive positive behaviour towards other people?


Disclaimer, this is NOT a question about whether or not equality, equity or equal rights are good or bad, applicable to humans in general or anything the like.

The only intent of this question is to talk about a word that best describes the overall idea behind those concepts.

I'm not a native speaker and I find it hard to come up with a word or very short phrase, that includes the overall idea of treating people in a way that caters to their special needs as well as empowers and enables them to reach their own goals without prejudice or unrealistic restrictions.

For example, how could a person say in as few words as possible that they believe in those ideas? For example:

"Hi, my name is [_X_] and I like food, traveling and [...?...]."

All Bits Equal

Posted 2018-10-05T12:43:22.657

Reputation: 113


Word history:

– Gordon – 2018-10-05T18:32:31.877

Perhaps the word you are looking for as far as common usage is "justice" or "social justice". – Gordon – 2018-10-05T18:51:06.740

The problem with "justice" and "social justice" in my eyes is how strong they sound, especially if you talk about social justice. The first thing that comes to my mind is the "online" social justice warrior, the white knight of the internet. Even though the general idea of someone speaking up for others is great and we need more people like that, the term also has a pretty negative connotation, depending on how you use it. – All Bits Equal – 2018-10-05T19:25:21.707

1Yes, that's true. I thought of "progressive issues" too. Of course, in both Europe and America we are living in politically charged times, so I try (rather unsuccessfully) to exercise caution with my word choice. – Gordon – 2018-10-05T21:17:45.113

1But your English is excellent. You should have no problems. ---Hi, my name is X and I'm interested in food, travel, and progressive issues. That might work. However there are some places in the USA where that kind of talk could get you run out if town. :). You may just want to settle for travel and food! You don't strike me as the typical English learner, however, there is an SE here with that topic. They may have other suggestions for you. Good luck! – Gordon – 2018-10-05T21:33:02.543

I think I'll settle with "I like food, travel and kindness." for myself personally and "Code, Happiness, and Equity!" for my FB Page. Thanks a lot for the pointers. What SE exactly are you referring to? Learning English? I'm currently mainly making sure the meaning of some more ambiguous words really stand for what I think they do and on this subject in special, it's really difficult not to step on any toes. – All Bits Equal – 2018-10-05T23:11:24.667



The word that you select for this, even if you are a native speaker of English, will reveal your philosophical and political perspective on morality which varies among the speakers of a language. In other words there is no right word.

Consider the words used by moral foundations theory to describe the five or six moral foundations they have identified and promote as explanatory. The foundation that might be closest to "equality" might be "fairness/cheating", however, different political groups will have different perspectives on these words insisting they are right and their political opponents are wrong:

Fairness/cheating: This foundation is related to the evolutionary process of reciprocal altruism. It generates ideas of justice, rights, and autonomy. [Note: In our original conception, Fairness included concerns about equality, which are more strongly endorsed by political liberals. However, as we reformulated the theory in 2011 based on new data, we emphasize proportionality, which is endorsed by everyone, but is more strongly endorsed by conservatives]

Perhaps "proportionality" is most appropriate, but a native speaker may not select that word as readily as "fairness".

The other paired headings representing a positive/negative pole used to describe the other moral foundations are "care/harm", "loyalty/betrayal", "authority/subversion", "sanctity/degradation", and "liberty/oppression". Some of these other words may be appropriate as well depending on the circumstances.

Furthermore, moral foundations theory is only one perspective on morality. For a description of moral foundations theory, see Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind.


Haidt, J. (2012). The righteous mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion. Vintage.

Frank Hubeny

Posted 2018-10-05T12:43:22.657

Reputation: 18 742

1Thank you for this well-formulated answer and reference link. I think what you explain here is exactly why it's so hard for me to find a word (I feel comfortable with) to describe the general idea I want the word to portrait. Every time I find something that sounds reasonably well suited to me, I start a quick search for the term and immediately find strongly biased and "corrupted" (my subjective reception) versions of it, used to portrait what some people think is correct but differs from what I first thought was portrayed by the term. – All Bits Equal – 2018-10-05T14:54:58.737