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Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


P olitical philosophy a basic requirement of social justice , involving fairness or fair shares, in contrast to equality or equal shares. Unlike strict equality, which does not take account of relevant difference, equity requires like cases to be treated equally and unlike cases to be treated unequally. The distribution of resources in society must be determined according to the merit, need, and capacity of the recipients. Only persons within the same category, for whom all relevant conditions are the same, should receive the same treatment. Plato and Aristotle distinguished arithmetical equality from proportionate equality. According to arithmetic equality, everybody receives an equal share irrespective of worth. Proportionate equality corresponds to equity and calls for distribution according to morally relevant differences. Equity requires the modification of general rules to meet special situations and seeks to provide just decisions in particular cases. Normally, what is equitable is equivalent to what is just, although some theorists see equity as no more than one aspect of justice. The principle of equity, with its emphasis on merit and worth, can come into conflict with consequentialist moral theories. “The principle of equity is that equals should be treated equally, and unequals unequally.” Barry, Political Argument ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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