10924 Equality and Inequality: A Philosophical Perspective 1

Credits: 6 advanced credits in Philosophy

Prerequisites: 36 credits, including one of the following: Problems in Moral Philosophy or Introduction to Political Thought. Students must also fulfill all English requirements and take bibliographic instruction in the Library.

Author: Elazar Weinryb

Objectives: The facts are well known – the gap between rich and poor in Israel and throughout the world is deepening. Therefore, the issue of equality attracts the public’s attention. From the philosophical perspective, the main question is whether economic equality is a true value. A critical reading of the extensive philosophical literature acquaints the students with the problem and helps them to understand, construct and refute arguments for and against equality. The practical significance of the abstract principles and arguments is also discussed.

Topics: What is redistribution? Equality of what? The principle of self-ownership; Who should own the world? The obligation to help; Mutual advantage; Reward theories; Equal opportunity; Rawls’s Difference Principle; Luck and responsibility; Mutual insurance; The question of expensive taste; The proper attitude toward the handicapped and the ill; Genetic engineering and equality; Globalization and equality; Equal basic income to all.

1Students may write a seminar paper in this course, although it is not required.

There is some overlap in the content of this and other courses. For details, see Overlapping Courses.