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Kent Greenawalt

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199756162

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199756162.001.0001

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How Empty Is the Idea of Equality?*

How Empty Is the Idea of Equality?*

(p.184) Chapter 10 How Empty Is the Idea of Equality?*
From the Bottom Up

Kent Greenawalt

Oxford University Press

“How Empty is the Idea of Equality” analyzes the idea of equality, as it figures in moral assessments and decisions, and may also matter in various legal contexts, such as sentencing. It essentially responds to a claim by Peter Westen that “equality” has no independent significance. The basic idea along this line is that persons should be treated as they deserve; of course, if two people deserve the same consequences they should be treated equally, but “equality” adds nothing to what otherwise is warranted. This approach is too simple. The essay treats both the formal and substantive principles of equality. Equality of both kinds can sometimes matter for benefits or punishments persons should receive.

Keywords:   Moral Assessments, Formal and Substantive Equality Principles, Allocation of Benefits, Punishment

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