Pipers Woerterbuch zur Politik

Authors: Nohlen
Summary: In about 1200 words the entry establishes that equality in the sense of the equality of all humans is a rather late development in political philosophy, traces the historical developments of different stages of equality, and refers to critics of an extensive conception of the term The Ancient Greeks and many other nations viewed a principal inequality between themselves and others, and the entry distinguishes the Christian conception of equality for all before God while inequalities during the tenure on earth are accepted. In that sense, only incrementally and in stages was equality established in the political and societal reality. The entry distinguishes between three main stages: Christian equality in the hierarchical medieval ages, civil-political equality in the modern state, and social equality in the twentieth century welfare state. Within these stages, equality also developed incrementally. For example, while the French revolution introduced the principle of equality before the law, it took in most countries until after 1918 before true universal suffrage including for women was introduced. But participation in the political decision-making process was also hinderedby the inequality of economic and educational circumstances. Therefore democratic socialists pushed for the establishment of equality of personal development which fundamentally depends on equal schooling and education, and the post-1945 welfare states introduced state run programs to support those with special needs. The entry points out that at every stage critics have brought forward arguments that point to differences in abilities and talent between humans and races. But theories and arguments in favor of equality have never questioned these inequalities and never aimed to level these , but have pressed for equal rights and dignity. The entry ends with a brief summary of Rawls theory of justice and critical arguments against him.