Introduction to Political Theory

(Marvins-Underground-K-12) #1

Chapter 3



Equality is a fundamental political concept, but also a very complex one. While
the core idea of equality is that people should be treated in the same way,
there are many different principles of equality. To provide a coherent defence
of equality requires separating out the various principles, and explaining what
it is that is being equalised: is it income, or well-being, the capacity to acquire
certain goods, or something else? Equality, or particular principles of equality,
must then be reconciled with other political values, or principles, such as
freedom and efficiency. For that reason, this chapter is primarily conceptual,
in that it aims to set out a number of principles of equality, and explain the
relationships between them. The discussion will necessarily refer back to
Chapter 2 (Freedom), and forward to Chapter 4 (Justice).

Chapter map

In this chapter we will:

  • Set out various principles of equality:
    formal equality, moral equality, equality
    before the law, equal liberty and equal
    access, material equality (equality of
    opportunity, equality of outcome and
    affirmative action).

  • Discuss, in more detail, those

    • Consider a radical anti-egalitarian

    • Consider the relationship between
      freedom and equality.

    • Discuss Dworkin’s distinction between
      ‘welfarist’ and ‘resourcist’ theories of

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