T. R. S. Allan

in Law, Liberty, and Justice

Published in print December 1994 | ISBN: 9780198259916
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682025 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks


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The content of the law must reflect the varying circumstances of different groups of people. However, the same underlying values which explain adherence to formal equality suggest the outlines of a wider conception. Formal equality reflects the principle that everyone should be accorded proper respect as a person of moral independence, who may not be treated less favourably by the state on account of his character or convictions or aspirations. A conception of equality underlies the fundamental distinction between policy and law, on which this account of the separation of powers relied. In the formulation and execution of policy, the government is not obliged to treat people equally: it may make reasonable distinctions between citizens in order to achieve its ambitions for the whole community. As the framework within which government must be conducted, however, the law must be even-handed.

Keywords: formal equality; abuse of power; irrationality; moral independence; policy; distinctions

Chapter.  9159 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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