The nature of basic equality (what it is that makes us all equals) can have implications not only for the question of the currency of egalitarian justice but also for that of its ‘site’. The latter question is raised by G. A. Cohen in his critique of John Rawls’s theory of justice. In this paper I argue that Rawlsian liberals might provide an answer to Cohen’s critique by establishing two distinct kinds of basic equality, thus providing a ‘twofold account’ of basic equality. A first kind of basic equality gains moral relevance in the context of respectful relations between individuals, and establishes egalitarian duties between them. A second kind of basic equality gains moral relevance in the context of respectful relations between the state and individual citizens, and establishes egalitarian duties of the state toward citizens. The strength of Cohen’s critique depends, in part, on the fact that Rawls identified only one kind of basic equality while at the same time wishing to defend a dualist account of individual and state duties.
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