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Justice and Equality (PO909)

The ideal of equality has been elaborated and defended by the world’s leading political philosophers over the past four decades. This module examines some of the most prominent accounts of equality, whether it ought to figure in our practical deliberations, and, if so, how. It is designed to develop your skills in the identification, interpretation and evaluation of relevant texts in contemporary political philosophy.In the first half of the module you will study some of the leading proponents of egalitarian justice in recent political philosophy—John Rawls, Ronald Dworkin, G. A. Cohen, Elizabeth Anderson—to gain an understanding of key questions concerning the nature and importance of egalitarian justice. Such questions include, for example, whether egalitarianism is best understood as a relational or distributive ideal, and whether egalitarian principles apply to individual behaviour as well as to institutions.

The second half of the module will cover selected debates concerning the potential implications of egalitarian justice for public policy and individual action, such as the following: Do egalitarian principles apply globally or only within political communities? What does justice demand with respect to the distribution of education? Does achieving racial equality require the pursuit of policies of integration? Should egalitarians care about “microaggressions”?