Egalitarianism (from French égal, meaning 'equal'), or equalitarianism, is a school of thought within political philosophy that builds from the concept of social equality, prioritizing it for all people. Egalitarian doctrines are generally characterized by the idea that all humans are equal in fundamental worth or moral status. Egalitarianism is the doctrine that all citizens of a state should be accorded exactly equal rights.
The term egalitarianism has two distinct definitions in modern English,either as a political doctrine that all people should be treated as equals and have the same political, economic, social and civil rights, or as a social philosophy advocating the removal of economic inequalities among people, economic egalitarianism, or the decentralization of power. Some sources define egalitarianism as equality reflecting the natural state of humanity.
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Some specifically focused egalitarian concerns include communism, legal egalitarianism, luck egalitarianism, political egalitarianism, gender egalitarianism, racial equality, equality of outcome and Christian egalitarianism. Common forms of egalitarianism include political and philosophical.
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One argument is that liberalism provides democratic societies with the means to carry out civic reform by providing a framework for developing public policy and providing the correct conditions for individuals to achieve civil rights.
The English Bill of Rights of 1689 and the United States Constitution use only the term person in operative language involving fundamental rights and responsibilities, except for (a) a reference to men in the English Bill of Rights regarding men on trial for treason; and (b) a rule of proportional Congressional representation in the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
As the rest of the Constitution, in its operative language the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution uses the term person, stating that "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws".
An example of this form is the Tunisian Constitution of 2014 which provides that "men and women shall be equal in their rights and duties".
The motto " Liberté, égalité, fraternité " was used during the French Revolution and is still used as an official motto of the French government. The 1789 Rights of Man and of the Citizen French Constitution is framed also with this basis in equal rights of mankind.
The Declaration of Independence of the United States is an example of an assertion of equality of men as "All men are created equal" and the wording of men and man is a reference to both men and women, i.e. mankind. John Locke is sometimes considered the founder of this form.
Many state constitutions in the United States also use the rights of man language rather than rights of person since the noun man has always been a reference to and an inclusion of both men and women.[ citation needed ]
Feminism is greatly informed by egalitarian philosophy, being a gender-focused philosophy of equality. Feminism is distinguished from egalitarianism by also existing as a political and social movement.
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At a cultural level, egalitarian theories have developed in sophistication and acceptance during the past two hundred years. Among the notable broadly egalitarian philosophies are socialism, communism, social anarchism, libertarian socialism, left-libertarianism and progressivism, some of which propound economic egalitarianism. Whether any of these ideas have been significantly implemented in practice remains a controversial question. Anti-egalitarianismor elitism is opposition to egalitarianism.
A very early example of equality of what might be described as outcome economic egalitarianism is the Chinese philosophy of agriculturalism which held that the economic policies of a country need to be based upon an egalitarian self-sufficiency.
In socialism, social ownership of means of production is sometimes considered to be a form of economic egalitarianism because in an economy characterized by social ownership the surplus product generated by industry would accrue to the population as a whole as opposed to a class of private owners, thereby granting each individual increased autonomy and greater equality in their relationships with one another. Although the economist Karl Marx is sometimes mistaken to be an egalitarian, Marx eschewed normative theorizing on moral principles altogether. Marx did have a theory of the evolution of moral principles concerning specific economic systems.
The American economist John Roemer has put forth a new perspective of equality and its relationship to socialism. Roemer attempts to reformulate Marxist analysis to accommodate normative principles of distributive justice, shifting the argument for socialism away from purely technical and materialist reasons to one of distributive justice. Roemer argues that according to the principle of distributive justice, the traditional definition of socialism based on the principle that individual compensation is proportional to the value of the labor one expends in production is inadequate. Roemer concludes that egalitarians must reject socialism as it is classically defined in order for equality to be realized.
Many philosophers, including Ingmar Persson,Peter Vallentyne, Nils Holtug, Catia Faria and Lewis Gompertz, have argued that egalitarianism implies that the interests of non-human animals must be taken into account as well. Philosopher Oscar Horta has further argued that "[e]galitarianism implies rejecting speciesism, and in practice, it prescribes ceasing to exploit nonhuman animals" and that we should aid animals suffering in nature. Furthermore, Horta argues that "because [nonhuman animals] are worse off in comparison to humans, egalitarianism prescribes giving priority to the interests of nonhuman animals".
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The Quran states: "O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted".Muhammad echoed these egalitarian sentiments, sentiments that clashed with the practices of the pre-Islamic cultures. In a review of Louise Marlow's Hierarchy and Egalitarianism in Islamic Thought, Ismail Poonawala wrote: "With the establishment of the Arab-Muslim Empire, however, this egalitarian notion, as well as other ideals, such as social justice and social service, that is, alleviating suffering and helping the needy, which constituted an integral part of the Islamic teaching, slowly receded into the background. The explanation given for this change generally reiterates the fact that the main concern of the ruling authorities became the consolidation of their power and the administration of the state rather than upholding and implementing those Islamic ideals nurtured by the Qur'an and the Prophet".
Modern egalitarianism is a theory that rejects the classic definition of egalitarianism as a possible achievement economically, politically and socially. Modern egalitarianism theory, or new egalitarianism, outlines that if everyone had the same opportunity cost,[ clarification needed ] then there would be no comparative advances and no one would gain from trading with each other. In essence, the immense gains people receive from trading with each other arise because they are unequal in characteristics and talents—these differences may be innate or developed so that people can gain from trading with each other.
The cultural theory of risk holds egalitarianism, with fatalism termed as its opposite,as defined by:
The theory distinguishes between hierarchists, who are positive towards both rules and groups; and egalitarianists, who are positive towards groups, but negative towards rules.This is by definition a form of anarchist equality as referred to by Alexander Berkman. Thus, the fabric of an egalitarianist society is held together by cooperation and implicit peer pressure rather than by explicit rules and punishment. Thompson et al. theorize that any society consisting of only one perspective, be it egalitarianist, hierarchist, individualist, fatalist or autonomist, will be inherently unstable as the claim is that an interplay between all these perspectives are required if each perspective is to be fulfilling. For instance, although an individualist according to cultural theory is aversive towards both principles and groups, individualism is not fulfilling if individual brilliance cannot be recognized by groups, or if individual brilliance cannot be made permanent in the form of principles. Accordingly, egalitarianists have no power except through their presence, unless they (by definition, reluctantly) embrace principles which enable them to cooperate with fatalists and hierarchists. They will also have no individual sense of direction in the absence of a group. This could be mitigated by following individuals outside their group, namely autonomists or individualists.
Berkman suggests that "equality does not mean an equal amount but equal opportunity ... Do not make the mistake of identifying equality in liberty with the forced equality of the convict camp. True anarchist equality implies freedom, not quantity. It does not mean that every one must eat, drink, or wear the same things, do the same work, or live in the same manner. Far from it: the very reverse in fact ... Individual needs and tastes differ, as appetites differ. It is an equal opportunity to satisfy them that constitutes true equality ... Far from leveling, such equality opens the door for the greatest possible variety of activity and development. For human character is diverse".
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels believed that an international proletarian revolution would bring about a socialist society which would then eventually give way to a communist stage of social development which would be a classless, stateless, moneyless, humane society erected on common ownership of the means of production and the principle of "From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs". Marxism rejected egalitarianism in the sense of greater equality between classes, clearly distinguishing it from the socialist notion of the abolition of classes based on the division between workers and owners of productive property. Marx's view of classlessness was not the subordination of society to a universal interest (such as a universal notion of equality), but it was about the creation of the conditions that would enable individuals to pursue their true interests and desires, making Marx's notion of communist society radically individualistic.
Marx was a proponent of two principles, with the first ("To each according to his contribution") being applied to socialism and the second ("To each according to their needs") to an advanced communist society. Although Marx's position is often confused or conflated with distributive egalitarianism in which only the goods and services resulting from production are distributed according to a notional equality, in reality, Marx eschewed the entire concept of equality as abstract and bourgeois in nature, preferring to focus on more concrete principles such as opposition to exploitation on materialist grounds and economic logic.
The fact that Marxist–Leninist regimes confiscated private businesses and landholdings radically increased income and property equality in practice. Income inequality dropped in Russia under the rule of the Soviet Union, then rebounded after its demise in 1991. It also dropped rapidly in the Eastern Bloc after the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe at the end of World War II. Similarly, inequality went back up after the collapse of the Soviet system.According to Paul Hollander, this was one of the features of communist states that was so attractive to egalitarian Western intellectuals that they quietly justified the murder of millions of capitalists, landowners and supposedly wealthy kulaks in order to achieve this equality. According to Walter Scheidel, they were correct to the extent that historically only violent shocks have resulted in major reductions in economic inequality.
Justice, in its broadest sense is the principle that people receive that which they deserve; with the interpretation of what then constitutes "deserving" being impacted upon by numerous fields, with many differing viewpoints and perspectives, including the concepts of moral correctness based on ethics, rationality, law, religion, equity and fairness.
Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory. Rights are of essential importance in such disciplines as law and ethics, especially theories of justice and deontology.
John Bordley Rawls was an American moral and political philosopher in the liberal tradition. Rawls received both the Schock Prize for Logic and Philosophy and the National Humanities Medal in 1999, the latter presented by President Bill Clinton, in recognition of how Rawls' work "helped a whole generation of learned Americans revive their faith in democracy itself."
Distributive justice concerns the socially just allocation of resources. Often contrasted with just process, which is concerned with the administration of law, distributive justice concentrates on outcomes. This subject has been given considerable attention in philosophy and the social sciences.
A Theory of Justice is a 1971 work of political philosophy and ethics by the philosopher John Rawls, in which the author attempts to provide a moral theory alternative to utilitarianism and that addresses the problem of distributive justice. The theory uses an updated form of Kantian philosophy and a variant form of conventional social contract theory. Rawls's theory of justice is fully a political theory of justice as opposed to other forms of justice discussed in other disciplines and contexts.
"Justice as Fairness: Political not Metaphysical" is an essay by John Rawls, published in 1985. In it he describes his conception of justice. It comprises two main principles of liberty and equality; the second is subdivided into Fair Equality of Opportunity and the Difference Principle.
Equality of outcome, equality of condition, or equality of results is a political concept which is central to some political ideologies and is used regularly in political discourse, often in contrast to the term equality of opportunity.
Equal opportunity is a state of fairness in which job applicants are treated similarly, unhampered by artificial barriers or prejudices or preferences, except when particular distinctions can be explicitly justified. The intent is that the important jobs in an organization should go to the people who are most qualified – persons most likely to perform ably in a given task – and not go to persons for reasons deemed arbitrary or irrelevant, such as circumstances of birth, upbringing, having well-connected relatives or friends, religion, sex, ethnicity, race, caste, or involuntary personal attributes such as disability, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
Social stratification refers to a society's categorization of its people into groups based on socioeconomic factors like wealth, income, race, education, gender, occupation, social status, or derived power. As such, stratification is the relative social position of persons within a social group, category, geographic region, or social unit.
Left-libertarianism, also known as egalitarian libertarianism, left-wing libertarianism or social libertarianism, is a political philosophy and type of libertarianism that stresses both individual freedom and social equality. As a term, "left-libertarianism" is used for several related yet distinct approaches to political and social theory. In its classical usage, it is an anti-authoritarian varieties of left-wing politics such as anarchism, especially social anarchism, whose adherents called "libertarianism". In the United States, it represents the left-wing of the libertarian movement and the political positions associated with academic philosophers Hillel Steiner, Philippe Van Parijs and Peter Vallentyne that combine self-ownership with an egalitarian approach to natural resources. This is done to distinguish libertarian views on the nature of property and capital, usually along left–right or socialist–capitalist lines.
John E. Roemer is an American economist and political scientist. He is currently the Elizabeth S. and A. Varick Stout Professor of Political Science and Economics at Yale University. Prior to joining Yale, he was on the economics faculty at the University of California, Davis, and before entering academia Roemer worked for several years as a labor organizer. He is married to Natasha Roemer, with whom he has two daughters, and lives in New York City.
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful as well as opposing authority and hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations. Proponents of anarchism, known as anarchists, advocate stateless societies based on non-hierarchical voluntary associations. While anarchism holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful, opposition to the state is not its central or sole definition. Anarchism can entail opposing authority or hierarchy in the conduct of all human relations.
Justice in economics is a subcategory of welfare economics with models frequently representing the ethical-social requirements of a given theory, whether "in the large", as of a just social order, or "in the small", as in the equity of "how institutions distribute specific benefits and burdens". That theory may or may not elicit acceptance. In the Journal of Economic Literature classification codes 'justice' is scrolled to at JEL: D63, wedged on the same line between 'Equity' and 'Inequality' along with 'Other Normative Criteria and Measurement'. Categories above and below the line are Externalities and Altruism.
Redistribution of income and wealth is the transfer of income and wealth from some individuals to others by means of a social mechanism such as taxation, charity, welfare, public services, land reform, monetary policies, confiscation, divorce or tort law. The term typically refers to redistribution on an economy-wide basis rather than between selected individuals.
Serge-Christophe Kolm is a French economist. His work in economics and related social science includes his analyses, concepts and results in Public Economics and Normative Economics focusing on equality, distributive justice, and efficiency of economic measures, and in other fields and problems often applying them.
Justice and the market is an ethical perspective based upon the allocation of scarce resources within a society. The allocation of resources depends upon governmental policies and the societal attitudes of the individuals who exist within the society. Personal perspectives are based upon ones circle of moral concern or those who the individual deems worthy of moral consideration.
Analytical Marxism is an approach to Marxist theory that was prominent amongst English-speaking philosophers and social scientists during the 1980s. It was mainly associated with the September Group of academics, so called because of their biennial September meetings to discuss common interests. Described by G. A. Cohen as "non-bullshit Marxism", the group was characterized, in the words of David Miller, by "clear and rigorous thinking about questions that are usually blanketed by ideological fog." Members of this school seek to apply the techniques of analytic philosophy, along with tools of modern social science such as rational choice theory, to the elucidation of the theories of Karl Marx and his successors.
Gerald Allan Cohen, known as G. A. Cohen or Jerry Cohen, was a Canadian political philosopher who held the positions of Quain Professor of Jurisprudence, University College London and Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory, All Souls College, Oxford. He was known for his work on Marxism, and later, egalitarianism and distributive justice in normative political philosophy.
The socialist mode of production, also referred to as the lower-stage of communism or simply socialism as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels used the terms communism and socialism interchangeably, is a specific historical phase of economic development and its corresponding set of social relations that emerge from capitalism in the schema of historical materialism within Marxist theory.
Market socialism is a type of economic system involving the public, cooperative or social ownership of the means of production in the framework of a market economy. Market socialism differs from non-market socialism in that the market mechanism is utilized for the allocation of capital goods and the means of production. Depending on the specific model of market socialism, profits generated by socially owned firms may variously be used to directly remunerate employees, accrue to society at large as the source of public finance or be distributed amongst the population in a social dividend.
Marx thinks the idea of equality is actually a vehicle for bourgeois class oppression, and something quite different from the communist goal of the abolition of classes. ... A society that has transcended class antagonisms, therefore, would not be one in which some truly universal interest at last reigns, to which individual interests must be sacrificed. It would instead be a society in which individuals freely act as the truly human individuals they are. Marx's radical communism was, in this way, also radically individualistic.
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