The Distinctiveness of Relational Equality

Politics, Philosophy and Economics (2024)
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In recent years, a distinction between two concepts of equality has been much discussed: 'distributive’ equality involves people having equal amounts of a good such as welfare or resources, and ‘social’ or ‘relational’ equality involves the absence of social hierarchy and the presence of equal social relations. This contrast is commonly thought to have important implications for our understanding of the relationship between equality and justice. But the nature and significance of the distinction is far from clear. I examine several accounts of this issue and argue none are entirely satisfactory. In turn, I offer an alternative proposal. Relational equality, on my account, involves a concern with each person having an equal 'civic status'. I characterize this concern and show it has distinctive and normatively significant positional and temporal aspects.

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Devon Cass
University of Manchester

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A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Justice as fairness: a restatement.John Rawls (ed.) - 2001 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

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