An enduring theme of Western philosophy is that we are all one another’s equals. Yet the principle of basic equality is woefully under-explored in modern moral and political philosophy. In a major new work, Jeremy Waldron attempts to remedy that shortfall with a subtle and multifaceted account of the basis for the West’s commitment to human equality.
What does it mean to say we are all one another’s equals? Is this supposed to distinguish humans from other animals? What is human equality based on? Is it a religious idea, or a matter of human rights? Is there some essential feature that all human beings have in common? Waldron argues that there is no single characteristic that serves as the basis of equality. He says the case for moral equality rests on four capacities that all humans have the potential to possess in some degree: reason, autonomy, moral agency, and the ability to love. But how should we regard the differences that people display on these various dimensions? And what are we to say about those who suffer from profound disability—people whose claim to humanity seems to outstrip any particular capacities they have along these lines?
Waldron, who has worked on the nature of equality for many years, confronts these questions and others fully and unflinchingly. Based on the Gifford Lectures that he delivered at the University of Edinburgh in 2015, One Another’s Equals takes Waldron’s thinking further and deeper than ever before.
[An] important new book…[This] insightful book suggest[s] that if we don’t recommit ourselves to political equality, we will become ever more closed, authoritarian societies. Economic elites should understand this…Without equality, the West cannot last.
If basic human equality is now agreed on, perhaps it would be best just to accept it and not bother about its justification. Yet, as Jeremy Waldron makes clear in One Another’s Equals, his Gifford Lectures, to have a proper debate about what kind of political arrangements equality requires we first need to fix ideas about what it amounts to.
This highly original and important book provides a thorough and sophisticated treatment of an issue that is of fundamental importance in moral and political philosophy, but which has not received sufficient attention or defense in recent years. The book should set the standard for further discussion of these very difficult issues for years to come.
Waldron writes on the topic of human equality with grace, intelligence, and passion. One Another’s Equals provides an argument intelligible to general readers that also advances the philosophical discussion in ways that will warrant response from philosophers, political theorists, legal scholars, and theologians.
- 280 pages
- 1 x 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
From this author
Sorry, there was an error adding the item to your shopping bag.
Sorry, your session has expired. Please refresh your browser's tab.