In modern democratic societies, the term “egalitarian” is often used to refer to a position that favors, for any of a wide array of reasons, a greater degree of equality of income and wealth across persons than currently exists.

Egalitarianism is a contested concept in social and political thought.

Some would hold that sentient beings such as nonhuman primates that do not satisfy criteria of personhood are entitled to equal moral status along with persons. Egalitarianism can be instrumental or non-instrumental. Given a specification of some aspect of people's condition or mode of treating them that should be equal, one might hold that the state of affairs in which the stated equality obtains is morally valuable either as an end or as a means.

(On the thought that the core egalitarian ideal is treating people as equals, see Dworkin 2000.) Further norms of equality of condition or treatment might be viewed as free-standing or derived from the claim of equality of status.

Controversy also swirls around attempts to specify the class of beings to whom egalitarian norms apply.

Walzer may also hold that everyone at all times and places has equal rights against gratuitous assault by people just seeking fun, whatever the local people's shared beliefs on this matter happen to be.

At any rate, we can identify clear exemplars of theorists who regard equality of a certain sort as a timeless unchanging moral requirement.

An ultimate norm might or might not be suitable for the role of guiding individual decision making or of serving as an explicitly recognized principle regulating institutions and public policy formation in a particular society.

If individual agents and public officials are liable through limited cognitive ability, limited knowledge, or limited allegiance to morality to misapply ultimate principles, it might well be the case that these principles could be implemented to a greater degree if they were not employed directly as decision-making guides for individual and public policy choice. Following this train of thought, one might favor as guidelines for individual and public choice simple, easily understood, readily implementable rules that are to serve as proxies for the moral principles that are the ultimate norms.Egalitarianism is a trend of thought in political philosophy.An egalitarian favors equality of some sort: People should get the same, or be treated the same, or be treated as equals, in some respect.John Locke holds that everyone at all times and places has equal natural moral rights that all of us ought always to respect (Locke 1690).The contemporary moral philosopher Thomas Scanlon holds that all people everywhere equally have the moral right to be treated according to the outcome of a procedure: what constitutes morally right and wrong action is set by the principles that no one could reasonably reject (Scanlon 1998).One might care about human equality in many ways, for many reasons.