An Equality Worth Defending

In our Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote of self-evident truths “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” and condemned government that was destructive of those ends. Given how important that document was, with its signers putting all of those ends at risk, there had to be a high level of agreement about what “created equal” meant (sadly, with the exception of slaves). Since then, however, discussion of equality has become a source of confusion and contradiction. Fortunately, a new book by James Otteson—”Seven Deadly Economic Sins” (2021), published by Cambridge University Press—offers a means of returning the discussion back toward clarity and a form of equality that is consistent with both moral philosophy and our Declaration. He calls it “the foundational principle of equal moral agency.” And when he …

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