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Subject Philosophy

Key-Topics equality

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


P olitical philosophy that all men are equal is a basic democratic principle, but it is not a statement of fact, for people differ in virtually all of their mental and physical capacities. The principle of equality, rather, claims that all persons have a right to equal treatment. For Kant , this equality is based on our human rationality and gives humans the dignity of being moral ends , who are not merely means to the ends of others. Equal treatment entitles all persons to equal consideration and equal opportunity. In a democratic society, all members are equally assured of basic rights to freedom and political participation, regardless of factors such as their race, gender, or religion. The vast gap separating the rich and poor today has led some egalitarian philosophers to extend the notion of equality from the equality of democratic citizenship to the equality of condition. On this latter claim, each person should have the same amount of goods or the same level of social and economic benefit. This simple equality seems to conflict with widely accepted principles of justice and liberty . Attempts at reconciliation have produced a better understanding of the equality of condition. Traditionally, equality has been limited to human being, but some recent environmental philosophers have criticized the alleged anthropocentrism of this restriction and have sought to extend ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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