This book is about the concept of equality in international society. The starting point for this inquiry is the contention that while equality is an essential concept in modern political theory it is not so in international theory. In the political theory literature there are several accounts of equality, such as formal equality, moral equality, equality before the law, equal liberty, material equality, equal access, equality of opportunity, equality of outcome (Hoffman & Graham, 2006, 61–62); and in the history of political philosophy equality is often regarded not only as a central political idea but also as a vantage point for philosophical reflection. Accordingly, social contract theorists from Thomas Hobbes to John Rawls treat equality as a starting point for normative political theory. The challenge is to formulate a psychologically realistic and formally structured concept of equality among moral and rational persons from which to theorise principles of political organisation. Hobbes’s understanding of the equality of fear is the point of departure for the journey from a state of war to orderly political relations (Hobbes, 1909, 94 ). For Rawls, the much more complex equality of the ‘original position’ is conditional for ‘justice as fairness’, which is the foundation for the theory of justice (Rawls, 1972, 11).
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