Strict equality is called for in the legal sphere of civil freedoms,since — putting aside limitation on freedom as punishment— there is no justification for any exceptions. As follows fromthe principle of formal equality, all citizens of a society must haveequal general rights and duties. These rights and duties have to begrounded in general laws applying to everyone. This is the postulateof legal equality. In addition, the postulate of equal freedom isequally valid: every person should have the same freedom to structurehis or her life, and this in the most far-reaching manner possible ina peaceful and appropriate social order.
(iv) Moral objections: A strict and mechanical equaldistribution between all individuals does not sufficiently take intoaccount the differences among individuals and their situations. Inessence, since individuals desire different things, why should everyonereceive the same? Intuitively, for example, we can recognize that asick person has other claims than a healthy person, and furnishing eachwith the same things would be mistaken. With simple equality, personalfreedoms are unacceptably limited and distinctive individual qualitiesinsufficiently regarded; in this manner they are in fact unequallyregarded. Furthermore, persons not only have a moral right to their ownneeds being considered, but a right and a duty to take responsibilityfor their own decisions and their consequences.
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Since the nineteenth century, the political debate has increasinglycentered on the question of economic and social inequality (thisrunning alongside the question of — gradually achieved —equal rights to freedom and political participation) (Marshall1950). The main controversy here is whether, and if so to what extent,the state should establish far-reaching equality of social conditionsfor all through political measures such as redistribution of incomeand property, tax reform, a more equal educational system, socialinsurance, and positive discrimination.