Equality as a Paradoxical Ideal or Respectful Treatment versus Equal Treatment

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Equality is perhaps one of the most fundamental ideas in legal, political and philosophical discourses. Egalitarians believe that equality is an ideal under the banner of which people fight against racism, sexism and other wrongful discriminatory practices. In somewhat different contexts, they believe that the same egalitarian ideals command a reduction of social and economic differences.

It has long been noticed, however, that the word ‘equality’ is used in many different senses. In some sense, it expresses a formal ideal. To be formally just or fair, a state or an institution should apply its guiding principles universally. For example, an office should not be inaccessible to one just because of one’s race. This is true, unless it is a matter of law, principle or declared policy that the office in question is equally inaccessible to all people of that race. As this example makes clear, some policies are utterly unjust and radically anti-egalitarian, however universal they are.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationParadoxes and Inconsistencies in the Law
EditorsOren Perez, Gunter Teubner
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing (UK), Hart Publishing
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9781472563507
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


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