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Egalitarianism and the Generation of Inequality$
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Henry Phelps Brown

Print publication date: 1988

Print ISBN-13: 9780198286486

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198286481.001.0001

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The Basis of Egalitarianism

The Basis of Egalitarianism

Chapter:
(p.481) 17 The Basis of Egalitarianism
Source:
Egalitarianism and the Generation of Inequality
Author(s):

Henry Phelps Brown

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0198286481.003.0018

The two preceding parts of the book, which were concerned with the history of ideas and the formation of actual distributions of income and wealth, have prepared the way for a final assessment of egalitarianism in principle and in practice in the last part of this book. Various applications of egalitarianism to the distributions of income and wealth have been distinguished according to whether they called for equality of treatment, of opportunity, or of consideration, and underlying all these is the same judgement of what is morally right in human relations: transactions and dispositions that are in some sense equal are only fair and only just. So stated, the judgement is inescapable: no one can be in favour of injustice; the principle of equality admits of debate only in application to particular circumstances, but it is also only here that its content becomes manifest. This chapter takes up the linked questions of what the principle of equality calls for in particular applications, what claim it makes (so understood) upon us, to what sorts of transactions or relations it is applied, and what is there in it that commands assent. The two sections of the chapter discuss first, applications of equality, and second, egalitarianism of the indistinguishable self––Rawl's Theory of Justice.

Keywords:   assessment, egalitarianism, equality, income distribution, Rawl's Theory of Justice, wealth distribution

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