Friendship as a Reason for Equality

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One arguably unwelcome consequence of social inequality is that it impedes friendships between persons of unequal status. The central aim of this essay is to identify the circumstances in which friendship gives people reason to reduce status inequality in society. I start by assessing the impact of inequality of status on friendship by focusing on its adverse effect on the friends’ similarity. Next I discuss the claim that if people of upper status would ‘uplift’ modest‐status people to their rank for the purpose of making them apt for friendship, this would reduce inequality in society. Assisted by J.S. Mill’s arguments for equality between the sexes, I then identify the circumstances in which people of upper status have reason to seek to equalize people of modest status so as to make them apt for friendship with them. Having shown that friendship does not generally give reason to introduce equality of status I close by arguing for the opposite view: equality gives reason to encourage friendship as a replacement for less egalitarian forms of relationship.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)167-180
Number of pages14
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy (CRISPP)
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2007


  • Friendship
  • Equality
  • Similarity
  • Aristotle
  • J.S. Mill


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