Political Egalitarianism

Social Theory and Practice 34 (4):485-516 (2008)
The term “political” egalitarianism is used here, not to refer to equality within the political sphere, but rather in John Rawls’s sense, to refer to a conception of egalitarian distributive justice that is capable of serving as the object of an overlapping consensus in a pluralistic society.1 Thus “political” egalitarianism is political in the same way that Rawls’s “political” liberalism is political. The central task when it comes to developing such a conception of equality is to determine what constraints a principle of equality must satisfy in order to qualify as “freestanding,” or to be justifiable in a way that does not presuppose the correctness of any one member of the set of reasonable yet incompatible “religious, philosophical and moral” doctrines that attract large numbers of adherents in our world.2 (Rawls uses the analogy of a “module” in order to describe the way that a properly political conception of justice “fits into and can be supported by various reasonable comprehensive doctrines that endure in the society regulated by it.”3 Political egalitarianism would be “modular” in this sense.) Rather than getting embroiled in the controversies that have arisen over Rawls’s formulation of this idea, I would like simply to accept the intuition, widespread among political philosophers, that equality is the sort of principle that – if given a proper formulation – could satisfy the requirements of a political conception of justice. After all, regardless of what peoples’ projects, values, or conceptions of the good life may be, it should be possible to design a set of arrangements that would provide equal opportunity to pursue these goals, or that would treat each conception of the good with equal respect, etc. From this perspective, the principle of equality resembles the principle of Pareto-efficiency, or certain formulations of the principle of liberty – it is one that everyone should be able to endorse, insofar as it does not privilege, or presuppose the correctness of, any particular set of projects, values..
Keywords Applied Philosophy  Social and Political Philosophy
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 0037-802X
DOI 10.5840/soctheorpract200834427
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,370
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Principles of Public Reason in the UNFCCC: Rethinking the Equity Framework.Idil Boran - 2017 - Science and Engineering Ethics 23 (5):1253-1271.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Democratic Equality and Respect.Kenneth Baynes - 0040 - Theoria 53 (=117;User_Persona=false;ord=1234):1-25.
The Place of Self-Respect in a Theory of Justice.Gerald Doppelt - 2009 - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 52 (2):127 – 154.
Justice and the Fetus: Rawls, Children and Abortion.David Shaw - 2011 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 20 (1):93-101.
Is a Political Conception of “Overlapping Consensus” an Adequate Basis for Global Justice?Karl-Otto Apel - 2001 - The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 11:1-15.
Overlapping Consensus.Remi Odedoyin - 2000 - Journal of Philosophical Research 25:323-343.
Justice: Metaphysical, After All? [REVIEW]Ryan W. Davis - 2011 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (2):207-222.
The Coherence of Rawls's Plea for Democratic Equality.Percy B. Lehning - 1998 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 1 (4):1-41.
Added to PP index

Total downloads
76 ( #71,190 of 2,193,887 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #291,271 of 2,193,887 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature