Dignity or Dependence?
Conclusion: designating dignity
… the principle of equality often takes the form of a quasi-proportionality between replacement income and lifetime earnings … modern redistribution is built around a logic of rights and a principle of equal access to a certain number of goods deemed to be fundamental.1
The US Declaration of Independence (1776) asserts for everyone an equal right to the pursuit of happiness. If we are to accept the earlier-vaunted notion that men are born free and that social distinction rests on common utility, then equality in virtue and inequality as market reality are extant. Why is this not so?
The central tension in any rights-based foundation for legal/regulatory repositioning when it comes to private property arrangements is the realistic limits to how far equal rights extend. In Chapter 4 we explored the virtue of equitable contracting within inequitable market frames, and yet the context of labour pricing exposed how only through the aggressive intervention of law might more than the semblance of less inequalities be achieved.
The rights-based frame advanced in this analysis is variegated. Law is employed to reverse or at least mediate and modify the current commercial onus. Law is not to protect the exploitation of the vulnerable and the dependent but rather to demand when market inequality appears mechanical, of those mechanisms the measure of common utility and its market value appropriate for and commensurate with sustainable societies.
This conviction may sound like a reaffirmation of Rawls’ ‘difference principle’2 and...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.