Equal respect and equal shares

Social Philosophy and Policy 19 (1):244-274 (2002)
Abstract
We are all equal, sort of. We are not equal in terms of our physical or mental capacities. Morally speaking, we are not all equally good. Evidently, if we are equal, it is not in virtue of our actual characteristics, but despite them. Our equality is of a political rather than metaphysical nature. We do not expect people to be the same, but we expect differences to have no bearing on how people ought to be treated as citizens. Or when differences do matter, we expect that they will not matter in the sense of being a basis for class distinction. We admire tenacity, talent, and so on, but do not take such features to entitle their bearers to be treated as “upper class.” Neither are people who are relatively lacking in these features obliged to tolerate being treated as “lower class.” As a society, we have made moral progress. Such progress consists in part of progress toward political and cultural equality
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