Basic equality: Exploring the Lockean framework for equality and its Kantian alternative
LE3 .A278 2007
Bachelor of Arts
Why should we treat all people equally? Jeremy Waldron answers this question from within a Lockean perspective. He argues that John Locke has a solid theory of equality and also that God/religion cannot be removed from Locke’s theory to create a secular belief in equality. Waldron asserts that the principles behind Locke’s reasoning shape Locke’s idea of equality within a religious framework and therefore the two cannot be separated without losing the meaning of Lockean equality. I argue that we can and should make an attempt to create a theory of equality without falling back on religion to support it. Waldron himself states “Somewhere hard work has to be done on the question of whether basic equality can be made sense of, philosophically in purely secular terms.” 1 I will challenge Waldron’s argument and offer the Kantian alternative to the problem. Waldron and Immanuel Kant’s arguments for equality are based on rationality as the property that all human beings share. Waldron sets the threshold for those who are considered equal at a belief in God. The threshold, when set at this point falls into divine command theory. By contrast, Kant differentiates equals by those who possess the capacity for rationality. The shape of the Kantian argument retains the Lockean structure, but actions aim towards humanity as an end in itself. The end in itself provides a more solid basis to ground equality than God making the secular Kantian argument a stronger theory than Waldron’s Lockean theory of equality.
The author grants permission to the University Librarian at Acadia University to reproduce, loan or distribute copies of my thesis in microform, paper or electronic formats on a non-profit basis. The author retains the copyright of the thesis.