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Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics Volume 8$
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Mark C. Timmons

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198828310

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198828310.001.0001

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The Anti-Inflammatory Basis of Equality

The Anti-Inflammatory Basis of Equality

(p.149) 7 The Anti-Inflammatory Basis of Equality
Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics Volume 8

Grant J. Rozeboom

Oxford University Press

We are moral equals, but in virtue of what? The most plausible answers to this question have pointed to our higher agential capacities, but we vary in the degrees to which we possess those capacities. How could they ground our equal moral standing, then? This chapter argues that they do so only indirectly. Our moral equality is most directly grounded in a social practice of equality, a practice that serves the purpose of mitigating our tendencies toward control and domination that interpreters of Rousseau call “inflamed amour-propre.” We qualify as participants in this practice of equality by possessing certain agential capacities, but it is our participation in the practice, and not the capacities themselves, that makes us moral equals. Thus, in contrast with recent accounts that simply posit a threshold above which capacity-variations are ignored, this chapter proposes moving from a capacity-based to a practice-based view of moral equality.

Keywords:   equality, moral standing, capacities, threshold, Rousseau, amour-propre, social practice, Ian Carter, opacity respect

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