The Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues


I was very grateful to receive an invitation to participate in the San Diego symposium on equality. The gratitude was tempered, however, by my realization that I had nothing of true value to contribute in terms of the deep theoretical problems surrounding the use (or critique) of the term “equality.” After all, “equality” has been the topic of systematic examination for roughly 2,500 years. More to the point, perhaps, is that I am scarcely an expert myself in the vast, and ever-growing, literature on the subject. As true of many other law professors, that has not kept me from writing several essays that touch on the subject and opining on particular controversies. But I am always aware that others, including fellow participants in the San Diego gathering, are vastly more aware of the formidable academic literature than I am.

So perhaps this essay is best viewed as a “meta-essay” consisting of reflections generated by almost four decades of teaching various facets of the subject of “equality” within the particular context of the legal academy. For reasons that should become obvious, I am not at all sure that my remarks would be equally relevant had I continued to be only a member of a political science department as a political theorist or were I a professional philosopher teaching either undergraduates or graduate students themselves hoping to spend their lives as philosophers. But it is a fundamental reality of the legal professoriate that they are not teaching graduate students in any conventional sense, beginning with the obvious fact that fewer and fewer law students are likely to have any significant background in the relevant literature on the subject of equality.





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Larry Alexander & Steven D. Smith

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