Skip to main content
Harvard University Press - home
One Another’s Equals

One Another’s Equals

The Basis of Human Equality

Jeremy Waldron

ISBN 9780674978867

Publication date: 06/19/2017

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.

Praise

  • [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.

    —Robert B. Reich, New York Times Book Review

Author

  • Jeremy Waldron is University Professor in the School of Law at New York University.

Book Details

  • Belknap Press

From this author

Recommendations