A recent academic debate has both disturbed and motivated me. Disturbed because of many reasons but the most relevant, intellectually, is that very smart individuals speak of equality but seem unclear as to what it means, exactly, and how it translates operationally into the various social arrangements. And it has motivated me to inquire and expound upon a concept that I think we all take for granted in thinking that we know what it means.
Let us begin with basics: denotative definitions. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines equality in several ways:
- The condition of being equal in quantity, amount, value, intensity, etc
- The exact correspondence between magnitude and number in respect of quantity, the existence of is which is sometimes expressed by the sign =
- The condition of having equal dignity, rank, or privileges with others
- The condition of being equal in power, ability, achievement, or excellence
- In persons
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