An introduction to theories and aims of discrimination law
Equality has been the underpinning principle of modern anti-discrimination law, beginning in the United States with the Civil Rights Act 1964. The shift from formal equality to equality of opportunity was articulated by R Wasserstrom, who suggested that that in a sea of inequalities, it seems pointless, philosophically and practically, to redress just one. There are various models and ideals of equality within discrimination law, ranging from formal to substantive equality, and including human dignity, pluralism, and compassion. Although notions of dignity have a part to play in understanding discrimination law, they cannot operate as a unifying theory for equality law. Despite the variety of theories available, there is a general consensus as to the underlying theory, policy, and aims of the existing definitions. That would be quite different from an understanding of the theories and aims as an aid to appreciate the statutory purpose.