Grant J. Rozeboom
Saint Mary's College of California
We are moral equals, but in virtue of what? The most plausible answers to this question have pointed to our higher agential capacities, but we vary in the degrees to which we possess those capacities. How could they ground our equal moral standing, then? This chapter argues that they do so only indirectly. Our moral equality is most directly grounded in a social practice of equality, a practice that serves the purpose of mitigating our tendencies toward control and domination that interpreters of Rousseau call “inflamed amour-propre.” We qualify as participants in this practice of equality by possessing certain agential capacities, but it is our participation in the practice, and not the capacities themselves, that makes us moral equals. This chapter thus proposes moving from a capacity-based to practice-based view of moral equality. Doing so avoids problems for other accounts that, like the one defended here, ignore (above a threshold) the varying degrees to which we possess the pertinent agential capacities, such as Ian Carter’s account of “opacity respect.”​
Keywords basis of equality  Rousseau  moral equality
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