Sociology Index


A shortening of the word equalitarian, suggesting a commitment to, or a state of, equality. Egalitarian societies or groups are contrasted to hierarchical or class-based societies or groups. Egalitarian philosophies include Socialism, Communism, Anarchism, Left Libertarianism, Progressivism, and Human Rights, which promote economic, political, and legal egalitarianism. Egalitarian ideas are supported by intellectuals. 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.

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.

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 other groups.

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.

Legal Egalitarianism
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
Luck egalitarianism is a view about distributive justice espoused by a variety of egalitarian and left-wing political philosophers. According to this view, justice demands that variations in how well off people are should be wholly attributable to the responsible choices people make and not to differences in their unchosen circumstances. This expresses the intuition that it is a bad thing for some people to be worse off than others through no fault of their own.
Luck egalitarians therefore distinguish between outcomes that are the result of brute luck (e.g. misfortunes in genetic makeup, or being struck by a bolt of lightning) and those that are the consequence of conscious options (such as career choice or fair gambles). 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 (for instance, whether we should measure material wealth, psychological happiness or some other factor) 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. An example of this would be a robber offering someone a choice between their money and their life. She also claims that 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" (of the 'resourcist' strand at least) do not in fact want to equalize luck or eliminate uncertainty, but instead believe that individuals should be equal in the amount of resources they have when facing luck or uncertainty.

Gender Egalitarianism
Gender equality (also known as gender equity, gender egalitarianism, or sexual equality) 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,” when used to describe a belief in basic equal rights and opportunities for members of both sexes within legal, social, or corporate establishments. 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 with self-described man haters and/or masculists, 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
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. Names for the implementation of this theory in policy include universal basic capital, basic capital and stakeholding, 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 Basic Income.

Asset-based egalitarian policies, such as the Ackerman and Alstott proposals, are often criticised as not being egalitarian. Due to different people having different abilities and talents to utilise financial wealth, there is always a risk that those without formal financial education would alienate their own freedom by dissipating their capital or 'stakeblowing.' 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 Citizen’s Stake and Paternalism” in Ackerman, B et al (eds) Redesigning Distribution.

Christian Egalitarianism
Christian Egalitarianism (derived from the French word Egal, meaning equal or level), also known as biblical equality, is a recent adaptation of the moral doctrine of Egalitarianism which holds that people should be treated as equals. Ultimately, Egalitarianism holds that all human persons are equal in fundamental worth and moral status.
Christian Egalitarianism holds that all people are equal before God and in Christ. According to Christian Egalitarianism, gender equality in Christian church leadership (including pastors) and in Christian marriage is biblically sound. Christian Egalitarianism affirms that God designed men and women to complement and benefit one another.
The opposing view of Egalitarianism is Complementarianism, a theological view held by some Christians that differing, often non-overlapping roles between men and women, manifested in marriage, church leadership, and elsewhere, is biblically required.
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. This theoretically would allow men and women to complement each other without any form of hierarchy. This view argues that the Bible prescribes both equality and complementary positions and roles for both men and women. One academic book advocating this position is Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy. - Ronald W. Pierce, Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, Gordon D. Fee (eds.), Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005.