The focus of this book is the idea of equality as a moral, political and jurisprudential concept. The author is motivated primarily by a concern to better understand conundrums in the justification, interpretation and application of discrimination law. Nicholas Smith aims to provide a clearer understanding of the nature of the value that the law is trying to uphold - equality. He rejects the notion that the concept of equality is vacuous and defends the idea as the proper range of moral concern. After discussing the general characteristics of the denial of equality and some types of discrimination, Smith considers prominent views on the point of equality law. He argues that human rights lawyers should step back from the business of trying to steer courts towards vague equality goals informed by conceptions of equality that are either empty or even more abstract than the notion of equality itself. If they do, Smith thinks that the meaning of 'equality' will be apparent, though abstract, and our difficulties will be shown to be, in the first instance, moral ones. These moral issues will require more rigorous attention before we can draft discrimination law which gives clear effect to a widely legitimate understanding of what it means to uphold and promote equality. This book will be a valuable resource for students and researchers working in the areas of legal philosophy, political theory, public law, and human rights law.
'The idea of Equality, Nicholas Smith observes in his insightful new book, Basic Equality and Discrimination, Reconciling Theory and Law, is both concrete and ambiguous at the same time… Smith carefully analyses the justifications and affects in the most philosophically and jurisprudentially problematic areas of public policy and law… The pragmatic, empirical and balanced nature of Smith’s thought is evident throughout the book.' Australian Journal of legal Philosophy