In liberal democratic societies many people, philosophers and nonphilosophers alike, will attest to a belief that equality is a good thing, or at least that inequality is bad. However, what we might call the ‘equality consensus’ is less clear about what equality means. Pretty much everyone will uphold the equal moral worth of individuals. But should people simply be accorded equal legal and political rights? Or should they also be made equal, in the sense of equal in their income, material resources or standard of living? Most would answer ‘yes’ to the first question, but the second provokes different responses. On the one hand, libertarians contend that we should treat people as equals by intervening only to stop those who threaten to interfere with others’ equal rights to freedom. Respect for equality requires that we not redistribute property or income, as that would constitute interference in individuals’ equal liberty. Radical egalitarians, on the other hand, believe that treating people as equals involves the redistribution of wealth, whether it be to achieve strict equality, to bring everyone to a level of sufficiency, or to improve the position of the worst off. They insist that material deprivation is at odds with the equality consensus. In this chapter I defend the aim of material equality in light of three conceptual challenges that reflect the fundamental libertarian objection that the redistribution of wealth unjustly invades individual freedom. The first challenge is that egalitarianism is mired in a commitment to levelling down, where equality of resources is irrationally preferred over any other distribution even if it reduces the resources available to the better off at no benefit to the worse off. The second is the problem of talent; here it is charged that egalitarian distribution implies effacing, ignoring or even thwarting people’s special capacities. The third is the matter of partiality, where promoting equality is taken to mean the elimination of any special regard the individual has for her own interests or those of particular others. Levelling down, talent and partiality are large issues, each meriting sustained analysis; I bring them together here in order to show how they can all be illuminated by a flourishing approach to equality. The discussion will reveal, first, that equality is important precisely because of its effect on wellbeing, and second, that the egalitarian ideal is best served by aiming for equality in wellbeing, or human flourishing, rather than equality of goods or

resources. Conceiving of equality in this way will enable us to see the truth in egalitarian views that are sometimes superficially dismissed as implausible.