The demand for equality is central to modern politics. But what exactly do we mean by equality? Does it threaten other important values? Is it a demand we should support or question?
This highly accessible book provides an engaging introduction to the concept of equality and to the debates, historical and contemporary, that surround it. It explains and critically considers how the demand for equality arises in different spheres. In the political sphere, it explores the relationship between equality and democracy. In the economic and social spheres, it explores the ideal of meritocracy and more radical theories of egalitarian justice developed in the works of John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin. In the legal sphere, the book discusses the challenges that feminism and multiculturalism pose to conventional conceptions of equal citizenship. It concludes with an examination of whether equality should ‘go global’, and by analyzing contemporary arguments for and against the continuing relevance of equality to the political life of affluent democracies. Throughout, the book considers the tensions internal to the demand for equality and between equality and other important values such as liberty and efficiency.
Drawing on political philosophy, sociology and the history of political thought, the book will be of interest to students and researchers in philosophy and the social sciences and anyone interested in the values that animate democratic political life.
Table of Contents
1. The Demand for Equality
1. 1 Forms of equality
1. 2 Forms of value
2. 1 Natural aristocracy and the mixed constitution
2. 2 The social contract and political equality
2. 3 Why democracy?
2. 4 Majority tyranny: two protective strategies
3. 1 Why meritocracy?
3. 2 Weak meritocracy
3. 3 Strong meritocracy
3. 4 How meritocratic is contemporary society?
3. 5 Against meritocracy 1: threat to liberty
3. 6 Against meritocracy 2: status inequality
3. 7 Against meritocracy 3: incoherence
3. 8 Against meritocracy 4: unfair to the less talented
4. Luck Egalitarianism
4. 1 ‘Equality of resources'
4. 2 Resources versus capabilities?
4. 3 Against luck egalitarianism 1: threat to liberty
4. 4 Against luck egalitarianism 2: social and political inequality
5. Equality and Incentives
5. 1 Incentives and inequality: three views
5. 2 Defending the difference principle
5. 3 The question of work ethos
5. 4 Moral incentives in a market economy
5. 5 Economic equality: a provisional summary
6. Equality and Difference
6. 1 Gender difference
6. 2 Cultural difference
6. 3 The exemptions debate
6. 4 Democracy revisited
7. The Future of Equality
7. 1 Must equality go global?
7. 2 The pessimist’s case
7. 3 The optimist’s case
“This is the only book of its kind, offering a thorough discussion of the value of equality in all its dimensions. I have no doubt that it will become a minor classic in a short time.”
—Professor Paul Kelly, London School of Economics and Political Science
“This is a terrific book, carefully and accessibly written, covering a lot of material without oversimplifying. Just right for the series.”
—Professor Harry Brighouse, University of Wisconsin