Inclusion as a concept that finds expression in the whole spectrum of social relations, stems from the principle of moral equality, ‘’that postulates that all persons have the same intrinsic worth’’ (1)

An elaboration of the principle as a normative rule may postulate that no individual or group can intrinsically claim superiority for their physical attributes and for its belief, value and preferences systems, especially if these when socially applied cause harm to other individuals or groups.

This negative rule results in the attitude of respect towards what may be considered as different or diverse from the standards of a dominant group. 

From this follows that inclusion cannot mean incorporation. In strategies of incorporation diversity is eliminated and the divergent ‘other’ can become a member of the dominant group as long as s/he is divested from the characteristics that make her/him divergent and adopts the standards of the dominant group.

Moreover, inclusion goes beyond the notions of acceptance or tolerance of diversity in the sense that it does not just refrain from the persecution of diversity and just lets it be isolated (or even marginalised) without harming it. 

On the contrary the inclusive community does not perceive diversity as a problem but as a resource and as an opportunity to expand the boundaries of its collective knowledge. Inclusion in this sense influences and transforms the community. In this sense inclusion is positive concept that actually calls for affirmative action rather than simply abstaining from discriminatory practices. (2)

What needs to be stressed is that inclusion is not a state of affairs but rather an ongoing process (3) that is socially and historically determined. 

As a moral principle, it is internalised in the mindset of individuals and groups and is performed in their everyday lives. In this sense the inclusive community constantly educates itself and is members in the practice of inclusion.

In this sense, inclusion cannot be legally enforced from above. What the law can do combined with comprehensive policies is to create norms and set standards that have an educative character in the sense that they may encourage people to reflect on their attitudes towards diversity and motivate them to embrace an inclusive mentality. 

  1. Selznick, P (1992) The Moral Commonwealth, (University of California Press, Berkley & Los Angeles, California) p. 482
  2. The prohibition of discrimination and the abstention from discriminatory practices as a notion is very close to that of inclusion but not identical with it. The main difference is that non discrimination is a negative legal principle that prohibits actions whereas inclusion is primarily a moral principle and a moral attitude that aims at the cultivation of a mindset. For the principle of non-discrimination and relevant sources at EU level  see,opportunities%20available%20in%20a%20society.
  3. See ‘The SOLIS project. Research on Inclusive Education Approaches and Tools. Report’ (2021, unpublished deliverable of the SOLIS project)