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Social EqualityOn What It Means to be Equals$
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Carina Fourie, Fabian Schuppert, and Ivo Wallimann-Helmer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199331109

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199331109.001.0001

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Social Equality and Social Inequality

Social Equality and Social Inequality

Chapter:
(p.209) 10 Social Equality and Social Inequality
Source:
Social Equality
Author(s):

Jonathan Wolff

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199331109.003.0011

Theorists of social equality argue that the inspiration behind egalitarianism is not the idea of the equalization of some currency of justice, but the idea of a society in which all regard and treat each other as equals. On this view, barriers to equality include asymmetric social relations involving hierarchy, exclusion, or oppression. Generally, though, social egalitarians have found it difficult to present a positive theory of social equality, which has been regarded as a weakness. However, according to Amartya Sen, the task of political philosophy is not to provide an ideal theory of justice, but to identify and propose remedies for “manifest injustice.” Hence, on this approach, what looked like a weakness turns out to be a strength. Accordingly, this chapter goes on to consider how to make sense of this position in philosophical terms.

Keywords:   equality, inequality, hierarchy, oppression, social relationships

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