The seventh Balzan-Skinner lecture and symposium with Balzan-Skinner Fellow Dr Teresa Bejan. Filmed at CRASSH, University of Cambridge, on 22 April 2016.
As the core premise of modern moral and political philosophy, equality often demands more allegiance than investigation. The question of its historical emergence as a social and political ideal is generally set aside in favor of identifying the causal and constitutive harms of various kinds of inequality – political, social, or economic. This talk will explore ideas of equality as a political principle, a religious commitment, and a social practice in seventeenth-century England. These fascinating but forgotten visions of “equality before egalitarianism” shed light on the development of a central concept in modern political thought while providing some analytical clarity and historical insight sorely missing in contemporary debates.