February 26, 2021 at 1:51 pm

Hanisch Investigates the Value of Equality – Theoretically and Practically

Christoph Hanisch, portrait

Dr. Christoph Hanisch

“Most people living in democratic societies agree that they are committed to the moral and political value of ‘equality.’ However, when we ask them what this commitment exactly amounts to, and what political and social implications they endorse based on it, we get radically divergent and sometimes even incompatible answers,” says Dr. Christoph Hanisch, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Ohio University since 2016.

“For example, both the American Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution emphatically appeal to the fundamental value of equality,” Hanisch continues. “However, and not only today but throughout American history, the most tenacious political disagreements and controversies ultimately stem, to a good deal, from unclarity and imprecision regarding the ideal of equality. And that’s the moment, at which philosophers enter the exchange and hope to move the debate forward.”

Hanisch has been working on the topic of egalitarianism for quite some time.

“Actually, during my undergraduate studies in philosophy, history, and political science at the University of Vienna (Austria), it was the normative questions of fairness and distributive justice that got me really settled on the path towards a scholarly career in the first place. Without my studies in contemporary (anglophone) moral and political philosophy, on the one hand, and U.S. history and society, on the other, it is possible that I might have taken a very different career path, maybe law school…or playing in a punk rock band.”

In two recent publications, Hanisch continues his exploration of the value of equality. One essay, “Telic Priority: Prioritarianism’s Impersonal Value,” was published in the journal Moral Philosophy and Politics. The second paper, which appeared in Ethics, Politics & Society, is titled, “Health Care and Enforced Beneficence.”

“I think that the ways in which these two papers are related with one another and complement each other, highlight the extent to which the two scholarly tasks of abstract theorizing and applied scholarship work hand in hand,” Hanisch observes.


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