Equality: of outcome or opportunity? - Politics in Minutes (2016)

Politics in Minutes (2016)

Equality: of outcome or opportunity?

The notion of equality is closely linked to ideas of justice and fairness. Equality was the watchword of the revolutionary movements in France and America, expressed explicitly in the US Declaration of Independence in the statement, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’. Since then, it has become a cornerstone of human rights. However, it is easier to recognize than to define.

While it is generally agreed that all citizens should be equally subject to the law, and even that there should be equality of opportunity, there are differences of opinion about wealth distribution. A wholly egalitarian society arguably removes the incentive for improvement. Also, those whose achievements contribute most to society should be rewarded most. But deciding who is deserving and who undeserving, is a contentious matter. Growing inequality, both within societies and between rich and poor nations, is forcing political thinkers to re-examine the practicalities of a more egalitarian society.