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Title: A society of equals : the meaning, justification and implications of our basic moral equality
Author: Kirby, Nikolas Norman Patrick
ISNI:       0000 0004 6346 6270
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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This is a thesis about our basic moral equality as human beings: its meaning, its justification and its implications for our society. It offers the fundamental principles of how we are obligated to live together in a Society of Equals. Its major conclusions are as follows. First, whilst there is more than one meaning to the claim that 'we are one another's basic moral equals', the most important meaning for political philosophy is that each individual has Equal Authority. More specifically, each individual has fundamental authority over herself, and herself alone. Secondly, the justification of this fundamental authority over ourselves lies in our common limitation: we are all fallible. Further, we are not merely all fallible in the sense that any one of our beliefs could be false, but also in the sense that we have no non-circular way of judging the reliability of any of our beliefs. This aspect of our natural epistemic position justifies our equal, fundamental, practical authority over ourselves alone. Finally, the most important implication of this justification is that each individual's most basic reason for action is to promote not merely her own, but each and every individual's compliance with her fundamental authority over herself. It follows that each individual has decisive reason to constrain her own compliance with her own fundamental authority over herself, where necessary, to allow the equal promotion of someone else's compliance with her fundamental authority over herself. This principle is called 'Equal Respect'. Upon this principle of Equal Respect arises an architectonic System of Right, and correlative duties, that is called Equal Sovereignty. Under this system, our rights and duties with respect to one another are distributed in accordance with a hypothetical auction and insurance scheme to ensure that each individual is truly sovereign over their own equal share of the world.
Supervisor: White, Stuart Sponsor: Rhodes Trust ; University of Oxford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Equality ; Distributive justice ; Political science--Philosophy