The American political tradition has been ambivalent about equality as a political ideal. Yet most would argue that democracy means equality in at least some respect, and many have argued that democracy - and even liberty - are impossible without equality in respect of economic status. These perennial political issues stand at the center of a first year seminar in which students investigate, criticize, and formulate for themselves important philosophical considerations, in one direction or another, on the meaning of civil equality, on distinctions among legal, political, social, and economic equality, and on the defensibility of various conceptions of equality as democratic ideals. Readings are drawn from influential political theorists of the past and from philosophical inquiries of recent decades. Not only do students consider the question of equality within a political community, but the class also addresses the moral claims of equality across political boundaries and even in the global context that has so particularly concentrated our recent attentions.