Equity is a protean concept that covers the fields of law, philosophy of law and morality: to these fields economics and social sciences can also be added, as this volume demonstrates. In the history of human ideas the problem of equity has been inseparable from that of justice. Equity is synonymous with ideal justice, since when a norm is rigidly applied in such a way so as not to correspond in a concrete case to the ideal of justice, justice itself is impaired. The aim of this volume, an appraisal of the historical and comparative aspects of the concept of equity in English and German law and literatures, is to foreground and discuss two major points: interest in equity as a principle of justice is enhanced in periods of rapid transition; many of the difficulties and ambiguities that arise when any attempt is made to offer a convincing, comparatively permanent concept of equity derive from the fact that the notion cannot be based on objective and unchanging criteria. The literary field, with its fictional discourses, gives evidence of how European literatures have always been concerned with the ethical debate, the problem of equity and the quest for shared ethics. The interdisciplinary aspect of this volume – involving law in connection with the literary and economic discourse considered in a European perspective – is meant to widen the scope of the proposed problem of equity in terms adequate to the European context and to the complex relationships of contemporary societies.
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