The American Philosophy of Equality

The American Philosophy of Equality

The American Philosophy of Equality

The American Philosophy of Equality

Excerpt

Ideals, like men, should be judged against the background of their pretensions. As over against fact-words, "equality" is an emotive-term. A factual connotation has not always been denied the word; indeed, such has at times been affirmed. But the primary pretension of the term has not been either to affirm or to deny facts but rather to bestir feeling and to initiate action. To say so ought not to belittle its function. Certain it is, however, that this use has tended to inhibit impartial evaluation of the claim of equality. Whether for this reason or for another, the critical consideration that the concept of equality has received in America is not at all commensurate with the fundamental place it has held in our political and religious and social assumptions. In early America the claim of equality rested on an inherited philosophy of natural rights; but that it rested on something more also is suggested . . .

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