Review Of "Social Equality: On What It Means To Be Equals," Edited By C. Fourie, F. Schuppert, And I. Wallimann-Helmer

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This superb collection of original essays looks at equality not primarily as a problem of distribution of something that should be equalized—e.g., primary goods (a la John Rawls), capabilities (Amartya Sen), rights (Ronald Dworkin)—but as something more elusive and yet profound: the equalizing of social relations. One need only think of examples of unequal social relations: patriarchy, master/slave, officer/soldier, teacher/student, and so on. The first question addressed is conceptual: What constitutes social equality? What distinctive values underlie it? Several contributors emphasize dignity and esteem as lying at the heart of social equality. The second question: What is special about social equality? Can it not be folded into distributive equality? The third, and broadest, question: What are the various relationships among social equality, justice, and politics? Each question is addressed with admirable clarity and rigor. The ten contributors make a positive and distinctive contribution by trying to understand and justify (or show the limits of) social equality. One pleasure of this collection is that it includes essays by Anglo-American and European philosophers. An important addition to the literature on moral and political equality. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals.


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