12036 Equality and Inequality: A Philosophical Perspective 1

Credits: 3 graduate credits in Democracy Studies / Communication and Culture

Prerequisites: Democracy: An Interdisciplinary Approach, Israeli Democracy: Selected Issues, Contemporary Democratic Theories, Liberalism: Texts, Contexts, Critiques, and exemption from bibliographic assignments on computer searches in the “Alef” catalog and databases.

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 who took Equality and Inequality: A Philosophical Perspective (10924) as part of their undergraduate studies may not take this course.

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