Sociology Index


Egalitarianism as a social philosophy has been applied to society in many ways. The word egalitarian suggests a commitment to, or a state of, equality. All people are equally important and should have equality of opportunity. Egalitarian societies or groups are contrasted to hierarchical or class-based societies or groups. Egalitarian ideas are supported by intellectuals. Communism is an egalitarian doctrine, envisaging that everyone must enjoy material equality. One may be an egalitarian even if not subscribing to equality in every area. Egalitarian philosophies include Socialism, Communism, Anarchism, Left Libertarianism, Progressivism, and Human Rights, which promote economic, political, and legal egalitarianism. Utilitarianism and Egalitarianism are both forms of Consequentialism.

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 Society

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. Prominent advocates of luck egalitarianism have included Ronald Dworkin, Richard Arneson, Gerald Cohen, John Roemer, and Eric Rakowski. 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 so-called "luck egalitarians" 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, gender equity, and 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,” 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.

Christian Egalitarianism
Christian Egalitarianism 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 and in Christian marriage is biblically sound. Christian Egalitarianism affirms that God designed men and women to complement and benefit one another. 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.