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Equality and Affiliation as Bases for Ethical Responsibility, 61 Louisiana L. Rev. 173 (2000)


The strong Western tradition, dominant in the United States and increasingly
accepted in the modem democratic era, is to regard equality of human beings as the touchstone ofethical responsibility. This approach derives to an important extent from Christian teaching and belief. Christianity as revealed in the parables discounted the significance of wealth and position, and Jesus specifically said that the meek would inherit the earth. Another important source of the tradition is classic Greek philosophy, particularly philosophy addressing obligations within the polis-the city-state that was the basic unit of society in ancient Greece. The citizens of the polis were the focus of all Greek ethical and political philosophy. The concept of equality has dominated ethical and moralphilosophy for the last two centuries, the period that substantially coincides with the era of democracy signaled by the French Revolution. The dominant ethical philosopher in the modem era is Immanuel Kant, whose concept of universality in ethical justification entails the concept of equality. Kant's ethical philosophy can be considered as a secularization or humanization ofChristian teaching.

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