Political theorists refer to the concept of equality in a number of different contexts. For instance, sometimes equality is understood to mean the principle of formal or legal equality, which refers to the idea that each of us should have the same status before the law, and prohibits applying different legal rules to people because of things like their race, religion, gender or social class. Additionally, equality is also sometimes understood to mean political equality, and as we saw in Chapter 5, political theorists defend different views about what kinds of democracy and citizenship are required to uphold this ideal. Despite disagreements about how to formulate them, both of these ideals are now widely supported amongst political theorists and in wider society. In this chapter, we will address a more controversial and demanding kind of equality, concerned with social and economic inequalities, called equality of condition. This principle is defended by egalitarians, who believe that inequality itself is bad or unjust (Parfit, 1998). However, as we shall see, egalitarians take different views about which inequalities matter, which prompts Richard Arneson to describe egalitar-ianism as a ‘protean doctrine’ (2013).
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number