A problematic but illuminating case is age discrimination (Daniels1988, McKerlie 1989, 1999, 2013; Temkin 1993: chapter 8). A societymight establish a state policy that mandates transfers of resourcesfrom older to younger citizens, by using public funds to operateschools for the education of children. A society might also follow ahealth care policy that rations life-preserving care made available tothe very old in order to reduce the extent to which expensive medicaltechnology extends the lifespans of very old people with reducedquality of life. In the same spirit, the society might tilt healthcare policies toward saving the lives of very young people threatenedwith premature death. In short, the society enacts coercive statepolicies that favor the young over the old. Such a policy counts asdenial of equal treatment if the units to be treated equally arepersons (of any age) at a given time. The policy is arguablyconsistent with equal treatment if the units to be treated equally areindividuals over their whole lives. At least, this would be so if allindividuals lived through youth to the same old age. In the world inwhich everyone lived to old age, discrimination against the old wouldbe unlike discrimination in favor of Catholics and againstProtestants, or in favor of men and against women, or in favor ofwhites and against Hispanics. The exception to all these cases,discrimination against the old would be consistent with equaltreatment of each individual over the course of her life. If theunrealistic assumption that all live to the same old age is dropped,then equal treatment with the units to be treated equally beingindividuals over the course of their lives would seem to forbid anyexpenditure at all on the health care of the old who have alreadyreceived more than those who died at a young age.


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