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Equality is at the heart of liberal, democratic political theory. Despite this, there is considerable disagreement about how we should understand equality in the context of liberal politics. Several different conceptions of equality (e.g., equality of opportunity, equality of welfare outcomes, and equality of basic rights) will recommend different and often conflicting policies and institutions. Further, we can expect, in democratic societies, that citizens will disagree on the correct conception of equality. This leads to the diversity problem of equality— there is no one conception of equality that will be acceptable to all citizens. This is compounded by the complexity problem of generating determinate and predictable results in the institutional application of any particular conception of equality. After identifying these problems and looking at G.A. Cohen’s defense of a thoroughly egalitarian conception of politics, I argue in favor of “democratic equality” as a political ideal.
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Ethics and Political Philosophy | Other Political Science | Political Theory
Thrasher, John. “When Equality Matters.” The Palgrave Handbook of Philosophy and Public Policy. Edited by David Boonin, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-93907-0
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Ethics and Political Philosophy Commons, Other Political Science Commons, Political Theory Commons
In David Boonin (Ed.), The Palgrave Handbook of Philosophy and Public Policy.