De feitelijke en normatieve dimensie van gelijkheid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

157 Downloads (Pure)


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.
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)33-52
Number of pages20
JournalEthiek en maatschappij
Issue number1/2
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Cite this