A shortening of the word equalitarian, suggesting a
commitment to, or a state of, equality. Egalitarian societies or groups are contrasted to
class-based societies or groups hierarchy.
Egalitarian philosophies include Socialism, Communism, Anarchism, Left Libertarianism, Progressivism,
and Human Rights, which promote economic and legal
egalitarianism. Egalitarian ideas are supported by intellectuals. Utilitarianism and Egalitarianism are both forms of Consequentialism. Consequentialism holds that one must act
so as to maximize the overall intrinsic value of some population.
Communism is an egalitarian doctrine, envisaging that
everyone must enjoy material equality. Communists argue that political egalitarianism is
indispensable to material egalitarianism. Egalitarianism can generally be found in
children. One may be an egalitarian even if not subscribing to equality in every area.
Egalitarianism is a political doctrine that holds that all people should be treated as
equals and have the same political, economic, social, and civil rights.
Egalitarianism as a social philosophy has been applied to
society in many ways. Common forms of egalitarianism include economic egalitarianism,
legal egalitarianism, luck egalitarianism, political egalitarianism, gender
egalitarianism, racial equality, asset-based egalitarianism, and Christian egalitarianism.
Consequentialism holds that one must distribute resources within some population so as to
maximize its overall intrinsic value.
Moral and legal egalitarianism
Universal egalitarianism has won wide adherence and is a core component of modern civil
rights policies. The United States Declaration of Independence includes a kind of moral
and legal egalitarianism. Because "all men are created equal," each man is to be
treated equally under the law. Similar to many other developed nations of the time, it was
not until much later that the U.S. society extended these benefits to slaves, women and
Egalitarianism in hunter-gatherer groups
Egalitarianism is found in modern hunter-gatherer groups. Without any motive many
returning hunters share meat with the rest of the group. These groups do not have a
defined leader. This is reflected in group discussions, where individuals with mastery in
one subject such as hunting will be respected, but not necessarily obeyed.
Equality before the law or equality under the law or legal egalitarianism is the principle
under which each individual is subject to the same laws, with no individual or group
having special legal privileges. Legal egalitarianism admits no class structures entail
separate legal practices. Thus, canon law, star chambers, and aristocracy are alike
forbidden, and the testimony of all persons is counted with the same weight. This
political development arose in the 18th century in both the United States and France after
their revolutionary periods. It was a radical development, as it negated the former feudal
and aristocratic foundations.
Luck egalitarianism is a view about distributive justice espoused by a variety of
egalitarian and left-wing political philosophers. Luck egalitarians therefore distinguish
between outcomes that are the result of brute luck like misfortunes in genetic makeup, and
those that are the consequence of conscious options. Luck egalitarianism is intended as a
fundamental normative idea that might guide our thinking about justice rather than as an
immediate policy prescription. The idea has its origin in John Rawls's thought that
distributive shares should not be influenced by arbitrary factors, but Rawls was not
himself a luck egalitarian. Luck egalitarians disagree among themselves about the proper
way to measure how well off people are, and the related issue of how to assess the value
of their resources.
Prominent advocates of luck egalitarianism have included Ronald Dworkin, Richard Arneson,
Gerald Cohen, John Roemer, and Eric Rakowski. Luck egalitarianism expresses a demeaning
pity towards the disadvantaged. Neither of these criticisms is accepted by luck
egalitarianism's proponents. Many philosophers think that the term "luck
egalitarianism" is a misnomer, because many so-called luck egalitarians.
Gender equality, also known as gender equity, or gender egalitarianism stems from a belief
in the injustice of myriad forms of gender inequality. Many followers of this philosophy
would like to see this term come to replace feminism or
masculism. They strive for ultimate fairness, and seek cooperative solutions so as to make
things better for both males, females and everything in between. While they may share a
number of critiques and analyses, they feel that egalitarianism is a better word for a
belief in equality than any word that focuses on one of the genders.
Asset-based egalitarianism is a form of egalitarianism which theorises that equality is
possible by a redistribution of resources, usually in the form of a capital grant provided
at the age of majority. Universal basic capital, and all are generally synonymous within
the equal opportunity egalitarian framework. - Cunliffe, J & Erreygers, G (2004) The
Origins of Universal Grants: An Anthology of Historical Writings on Basic Capital and
Asset-based egalitarian policies, such as the Ackerman
and Alstott proposals, are often criticised as not being egalitarian. Stuart White argued
that unless education corrected for this, there would be an inegalitarian outcome, as
people fundamentally have different asset-management capacities. - White, S (2006)
The Citizens Stake and Paternalism in Ackerman, B et al (eds)
Christian Egalitarianism also known as biblical equality, is a recent adaptation of the
moral doctrine of Egalitarianism which holds that people should be treated as equals.
Egalitarianism holds that all human persons are equal in fundamental worth and moral
Christian Egalitarianism holds that all people are equal before God and in Christ.
According to Christian Egalitarianism, gender equality in Christian church leadership and
in Christian marriage is biblically sound. Complementarian and Christian Egalitarian views
need not be mutually exclusive, according to some recent proposals that one can subscribe
both to Complementarianism and Christian egalitarianism. - Ronald W. Pierce, Rebecca
Merrill Groothuis, Gordon D. Fee (eds.), Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity
Without Hierarchy. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005.