Basic Equality and Contexts of Opacity Respect
Ian Carter (Universita' degli Studi di Pavia), Ian Carter (Universita' degli Studi di Pavia)

April 26, 2022, 11:00am - 12:30pm
Graduate School in Social and Political Sciences, University of Milan

Room B
Via Pace 10

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Università degli Studi di Milano

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Abstract  In previous work, I have argued that our basic equality is grounded in a kind of respect for persons which I have called "opacity respect". To say that two or more individuals are basically equal is to say that they are equal in some relevant descriptive sense, and that this descriptive equality serves to ground egalitarian prescriptions. The challenge, in providing an account of basic equality, derives from the fact that humans are all very different in terms of what seem to be the relevant properties. The idea of "opacity respect" aims to solve this problem in the following way: there is a kind of respect for persons that consists in a kind of "evaluative abstinence", a refusal to act on evaluations of their basic agential capacities. As a result, to respect a person is necessarily to see them as falling within a certain normal range of capacities, and all "normal" people are in this sense equal. In this paper, I defend my account against one of several challenges that have been presented in the recent literature: the challenge to the effect that opacity respect is not always an appropriate moral attitude and that it therefore fails to explain the appropriateness of treating people as equals. I defend my account by introducing several distinctions on the basis of which we can see that the evaluative abstinence associated with opacity respect is appropriate in some contexts, but not in others, and that the contexts in which opacity respect is appropriate also happen to be those in which we tend to favour treating individuals as equals, whereas the contexts in which opacity respect is not appropriate also happen to be those in which we tend to favour treating them as unequals.
Carter's working paper will be distributed among those who register.
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April 25, 2022, 4:00pm CET

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