The Nature and Limits of Human Equality

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-08-08
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
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The value of equality as the basis for a just polity is fundamental to modern, western, liberal society's self-understanding. Yet, this book shows that the standard individualist justification for it is implausible and lacks coherence while recent discussions of equality tend to ignore the question of justification altogether. John Charvet adopts a wider perspective than usual by contrasting the modern liberal view with pre-modern inegalitarian theories. This enables him to show that a basic moral equality is common to egalitarian and inegalitarian theories alike and hence that additional arguments are needed to justify the modern egalitarian standpoint. Having demolished the individualist account of those arguments, the author develops an original, coherent , communitarian, yet essentially liberal, justification for modern egalitarianism. This account also determines the proper limits of equality. The author distinguishes his new communitarian theory from the earlier communitarianism of the 1980s and ends by showing how his theory is to be applied in a multi-state world.

Author Biography

John Charvet is Professor Emeritus in Political Science at London School of Economics, UK, where he taught political philosophy and its history for many years. He is the author of several books, including A Critique of Freedom and Equality and The Social Problem in the Philosophy of Rousseau. His most recent book, written with Dr Kaczynska-Nay, is The Liberal Project and Human Rights (2008).

Table of Contents

Key Terms
1. The Strange Neglect of the Basis of Equality in Contemporary Egalitarianism
2. Ancient Ethics and the Transformation of Political Values in Early Modern Natural Law Theory
3. The Individualist Ethical Justification of Equality and its Problems
4. The Community as the Source of Individual Ethical Worth
5. Communitarianism, Old and New
6. Global Justice in the Contemporary Literature
7. Liberal Communitarianism from a Global Perspective
Selected Bibliography

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