In order to be able to observe the principle of equality it must become apparent, first, who is to be treated equally with whom and, second, what the prin- ciple means and entails. In response to the first question a moral value such as dig- nity may be said to be decisive, but such a position is unproductive and obscure. The alternative that is presented here focuses on a characteristic that those who seek to be treated equally themselves share in common: rationality. Two or more beings are invariably considered each other’s equals in regard to a characteristic; this is what basic equality means. Several characteristics are possible candidates; I argue that rationality is a nonrandom characteristic, which is for that reason viable. Rational beings are, then, to treat other rational beings equally, but this is not a moral demand; rather, self-interest is decisive. This provides the basis for formal equality. It is difficult, by contrast, to determine at what point the demands of material equal- ity are met, for ‘material equality’ may be interpreted in various ways, and even if one adheres to a strict interpretation it must be acknowledged that this is compati- ble with conflicting perspectives, none of which is compelling.
|Number of pages||20|
|Journal||Ethiek en maatschappij|
|Publication status||Published - 2021|