Why Does Inequality Matter?

Why Does Inequality Matter?

3.47 (76 ratings by Goodreads)
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3.47 (76 ratings by Goodreads)
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Inequality is widely regarded as morally objectionable: T. M. Scanlon investigates why it matters to us. Demands for greater equality can seem puzzling, because it can be unclear what reason people have for objecting to the difference between what they have and what others have, as opposed simply to wanting to be better off. This book examines six such reasons. Inequality can be objectionable because it arises from a failure of some agent to give equal concern to
the interests of different parties to whom it is obligated to provide some good. It can be objectionable because it involves or gives rise to objectionable inequalities in status. It can be objectionable because it gives the rich unacceptable forms of control over the lives of those who have less. It
can be objectionable because it interferes with the procedural fairness of economic institutions, or because it deprives some people of substantive opportunity to take part in those institutions. Inequality can be objectionable because it interferes with the fairness of political institutions. Finally, inequality in wealth and income can be objectionable because it is unfair: the institutional mechanisms that produce it cannot be justified in the relevant way. Scanlon's aims is to provide a
moral anatomy of these six reasons, and the ideas of equality that they involve. He also examines objections to the pursuit of equality on the ground that it involves objectionable interference with individual liberty, and argues that ideas of desert do not provide a basis either for justifying
significant economic inequality or for objecting to it.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 182 pages
  • 136 x 215 x 11mm | 250g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0198854889
  • 9780198854883
  • 738,994

Table of contents

1: Introduction
2: Equal Concern
3: Status Inequality
4: Procedural Fairness
5: Substantive Opportunity
6: Political Equality
7: Equality, Liberty, and Coercion
8: Desert
9: Unequal Income
10: Conclusions
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Review quote

This book's lengthy discussion of when and why inequality is morally objectionable expertly combines accessibility, subtlety, and sophistication ... the book is clearly written, discusses many arguments in both public debate and academic literature, and develops and assesses various ways in which such arguments can be developed. The main strength of this book is not its novelty, since many arguments can be found in Scanlon's earlier work as well, but the way it
summarizes and collects arguments against inequality and presents them in an accessible style. This book is a must read for anyone interested in inequality and social justice. * Dick Timmer, Journal of Moral Philosophy * Scanlon's Why DoesInequality Matter? is a significant contribution to assessing what is wrong with economic inequality from a relational egalitarian perspective. * Carina Fourie, Mind * "More than four decades of reflection on the idea of equality - or rather inequality - are distilled into this extremely impressive, thought-provoking, yet slim, volume. . . . For many years Scanlon's readers yearned for a simple, positive, unifying statement of his view. He resisted. And his patience has been rewarded. The current literature has taken up the pluralistic, relational view that Scanlon has always advocated. This volume makes clear why. Its originality,
force, depth and good sense will make itself apparent to the careful reader." * Jonathan Wolff, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews * "[A] densely packed and succinctly written book which is analytical political philosophy at its best: clear, rigorous, and admirably sharp. It's also pitched at just the right level of abstraction; no one who reads it could fail to appreciate how Scanlon is troubled by the sheer extent of inequality in the United States, and there are suggestions of policy positions, for example dispersal of media ownership. ... anyone remotely interested in egalitarianism will find
much to reward them in this outstanding book." * Jonathan Seglow, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice *
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About T. M. Scanlon

T. M. Scanlon attended Princeton University (BA in Philosophy, 1962), studied at Oxford, Brasenose College, 1962-63, and then at Harvard University (PhD in Philosophy, 1968). Scanlon taught philosophy at Princeton 1966-1984, then at Harvard from 1984 until his retirement in 2016. He was one of the founding editors of Philosophy & Public Affairs and has published mainly in moral and political philosophy.
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Rating details

76 ratings
3.47 out of 5 stars
5 22% (17)
4 29% (22)
3 30% (23)
2 11% (8)
1 8% (6)
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