Equality under and before the law

William Lucy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article attempts to defend two claims - first, that there is at least one intelligible and coherent concept of juridical equality extant in the law. This concept, I argue, has three components and two aspects and is found in an interestingly diverse range of doctrinal contexts. The fact that it is well rooted in doctrine, and that it applies to law application rather than just law creation, sets it apart - in a virtuous way - from other available accounts of juridical equality. The second claim is that this concept of juridical equality, despite the many complaints that might be made against it, is normatively significant and (possibly) normatively respectable. It is argued that this concept of juridical equality, construed as an inclusionary claim, can flourish only in a limited range of normative environments, one of which is a community of principle. The paper is a qualified defence of an allegedly 'formal,' supposedly uninteresting and institutionally embodied concept of equality, a concept often overlooked by contemporary political philosophers and regarded as anachronistic by many contemporary jurists.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-465
Number of pages54
JournalUniversity of Toronto Law Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


  • community
  • doctrine
  • equality
  • inclusion
  • normative


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