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Democratic Equality$
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James Lindley Wilson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691190914

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691190914.001.0001

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Equality as a Social Ideal

Equality as a Social Ideal

(p.17) Chapter One Equality as a Social Ideal
Democratic Equality

James Lindley Wilson

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses how the ideal of equal status connects to democratic aspirations, and why people should take that ideal seriously. Equality of status constitutes, and is constituted by, relations of an egalitarian kind. When people mutually recognize one another's equal status, they put themselves in an egalitarian relation. However, there are further connections between status equality and egalitarian relations, in that the recognition of equal status in various respects helps promote relationships among citizens free of hierarchy, domination, servility, and the like. These further connections are contingent, depending upon truths of empirical sociology and psychology—about how, in fact, humans tend to respond to certain social conditions, like material or political inequality. A similar structure holds for the ideal of political equality. The shared status of “democratic citizen” is constituted by a range of expectations that regulate institutions and individual practices. That status is properly recognized when institutions and practices meet those expectations. When citizens mutually recognize one another's status, they thereby engage in, and promote, valuable egalitarian political relations.

Keywords:   status equality, egalitarianism, citizens, political inequality, political equality, democratic citizen, institutions, egalitarian political relations

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