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The Philosophy of Equality

5. The Problem of Partiality

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In this final module, Nik discusses the problem of partiality, the fact that the decisions we make in our private lives may lead to an unequal distribution of resources. It appears that a government's attempt to achieve equality in society may lead to an unacceptable loss of liberty among its individual citizens. Should the state really people they can't give gifts to their friends and family? Should we therefore accept that equality is an ideal that we will never achieve?


At least since the French Revolution, equality has served as one of the leading ideals of the body politic, and today remains one of the key tenets in modern Western democracies. But is equality always a good thing? Is it fair? And to what extent should the State play a part in enforcing equality? In this course, we explore the philosophical concept of equality, demonstrating that ‘equality’ may not be as uncontroversial as it first appears.


Nikolas Kirby is Departmental Lecturer in Philosophy and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government and Retained Lecturer in Politics at Jesus College, University of Oxford.

He was educated at the University of Sydney (BA (Hons), LLB (Hons)) and the University of Oxford (BPhil).

He has worked in law, academia and politics in Australia. He is a co-founder and chair of the Good Lad Workshop, a social enterprise that engages boys and men in discussions about masculinity, sexism and lad culture. He plays Australian Rules Football for the University of Oxford during the winter, and village cricket in the summer.

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APA style

Kirby, N. (2018, August 15). The Philosophy of Equality - The Problem of Partiality [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Kirby, N. "The Philosophy of Equality – The Problem of Partiality." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,

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