Equality and Partiality
by Thomas Nagel
Derived from Thomas Nagel's Locke Lectures, Equality and Partiality proposes a nonutopian account of political legitimacy, based on the need to ... Show synopsis Derived from Thomas Nagel's Locke Lectures, Equality and Partiality proposes a nonutopian account of political legitimacy, based on the need to accommodate both personal and impersonal motives in any credible moral theory, and therefore in any political theory with a moral foundation. Within each individual, Nagel believes, there is a division between two standpoints, the personal and the impersonal. Without the impersonal standpoint, there would be no morality, only the clash, compromise, and occasional convergence of individual perspectives. It is because a human being does not occupy only his own point of view that each of us is susceptible to the claims of others through private and public morality. Political systems, to be legitimate, must achieve an integration of these two standpoints within the individual. These ideas are applied to specific problems such as social and economic inequality, toleration, international justice, and the public support of culture. Nagel points to the problem of balancing equality and partiality as the most important issue with which political theorists are now faced.