Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37 (2):179-201 (2007)

Christopher Morgan-Knapp
State University of New York at Binghamton
Contemporary moral egalitarians hold that all people have equal moral standing and that we deserve this standing in virtue of satisfying some descriptive criterion. These two claims appear to be in tension, however, as none of the proposed criteria are attributes that all people possess equally. Many egalitarians have hoped to eliminate this tension by holding that the descriptive criterion of moral standing is a "range property" – that is, a property one either possesses fully or not at all. I argue that the prospects of this strategy succeeding are not good. The problems I raise stem from the vagueness of the egalitarians’ descriptive criteria. Appealing to what I call the moral ideal of proportionality, I show that this vagueness forces us to allow that moral standing can be possessed to finely differentiated degrees. But once this is granted, it is difficult to see how the claim that all people are moral equals can be justified.
Keywords Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0045-5091
DOI 10.1353/cjp.2007.0017
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Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - Philosophy 52 (199):102-105.
The Case for Animal Rights.Tom Regan & Mary Midgley - 1986 - The Personalist Forum 2 (1):67-71.
A Continuum Argument for Intransitivity.Larry S. Temkin - 1996 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 25 (3):175-210.

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