Theories of Justice and Equality by Michael Walzer

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Michael Walzer is an American political philosopher and public intellectual. One of his important intellectual contributions is the theory of "complex equality". As far as distributive justice is concerned, equality or "simple equality" means that everyone is being furnished with the same material level of goods and services (Gosepath, 2001, 3.1 para 1).


Thus, Citizen X may be chosen over citizen Y for political office, and then the two of them will be unequal in the sphere of politics. But they will not be unequal generally so along as X's offices give him no advantage over Y in any other spheres-superior medical care, access to better schools for his children, entrepreneurial opportunities and so on"(as cited in Hooghe, 1999, p.211).
The absence of X's advantage over Y is called a "blocked exchange" which in practice maintains boundaries between social institutions and practices. Inequities in one area are acceptable but cumulative and overlapping inequalities are not permissible. An accumulation of these inequalities can be the result of two different processes:
The influential position within one sphere can be used to gain access to a similar position in a different sphere. The notion of complex equality is aimed mainly at eradicating the possibility of this kind of exchange.
Power positions within two (or more) different spheres originate from a single common cause. This would imply that Citizen X has one single characteristic, which makes him excel both in literatures, as in politics and in economic entrepreneurship. The theory of complex equality does not explicitly address this as possible cause of cumulative inequalities (Hooghe, 1999, p.211).
In summary, Walzer's complex of equality i ...
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