The value of equality as the basis for a just polity is fundamental to modern, western, liberal society's self-understanding. Yet, this book shows that the standard individualist justification for it is implausible and lacks coherence while recent discussions of equality tend to ignore the question of justification altogether. John Charvet adopts a wider perspective than usual by contrasting the modern liberal view with pre-modern inegalitarian theories. This enables him to show that a basic moral equality is common to egalitarian and inegalitarian theories alike and hence that additional arguments are needed to justify the modern egalitarian standpoint. Having demolished the individualist account of those arguments, the author develops an original, coherent , communitarian, yet essentially liberal, justification for modern egalitarianism. This account also determines the proper limits of equality. The author distinguishes his new communitarian theory from the earlier communitarianism of the 1980s and ends by showing how his theory is to be applied in a multi-state world.

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