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Professor Anne Phillips on ‘Unconditional Equals’

Professor Anne Phillips with Gertje Bol and Professor Teresa Bejan

The talk explored key themes from Professor Phillips’ recent book, also called Unconditional Equals. Looking back over the last 300 to 400 years, Professor Phillips explores various declarations of human equality (on the grounds of a shared human nature) and the exclusions that have existed or do exist, for example the exclusion of those subject to slavery, colonised people or those who are less wealthy. Professor Phillips argues that claims that humans have achieved or accepted that there is a natural or ‘basic moral equality’ are premature and that clear exclusions still exist.

Rather than appealing to a shared human nature as a basis for equality, her book draws on “political, feminist, and postcolonial theory [to argue that] we should understand equality not as something grounded in shared characteristics but as something people enact when they refuse to be considered inferiors”.