What Is Equality?

I conceive that there are two kinds of inequality among the human species; one, which I call natural or physical, because it is established by nature, and consists in a difference of age, health, bodily strength, and the qualities of the mind or of the soul: and another, which may be called moral or political inequality, because it depends on a kind of convention, and is established, or at least authorised by the consent of men. This latter consists of the different privileges, which some men enjoy to the prejudice of others; such that of being more rich, more honoured, more powerful or even in a position to exact obedience.

- Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, Intro.

Podcast of the Day

Does inequality really matter? Or is it better to strive for improving the lot of the worst off, even if there is still a huge disparity between what different individuals have? Alex Voorhoeve discusses these questions in this episode of the Philosophy Bites podcast.

Listen to Alex Voorhoeve on Inequality

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

...In their 2011 paper, Michael Norton and Dan Ariely analyzed beliefs about wealth inequality. They asked more than 5,000 Americans to guess the percentage of wealth (i.e., savings, property, stocks, etc., minus debts) owned by each fifth of the population. Next, they asked people to construct their ideal distributions. Imagine a pizza of all the wealth in the United States. What percentage of that pizza belongs to the top 20% of Americans? How big of a slice does the bottom 40% have? In an ideal world, how much should they have?

The average American believes that the richest fifth own 59% of the wealth and that the bottom 40% own 9%. The reality is strikingly different. The top 20% of US households own more than 84% of the wealth, and the bottom 40% combine for a paltry 0.3%. The Walton family, for example, has more wealth than 42% of American families combined...

Continue reading Nicholas Fitz's article: Economic Inequality: It's Far Worse Than You Think

Further Reading

...From antiquity onward, equality has been considered a constitutive feature of justice. Throughout history, people and emancipatory movements use the language of justice to pillory certain inequalities. But what exactly is the connection between equality and justice, i.e., what kind of role does equality play in a theory of justice? The role and correct account of equality, understood as an issue of social justice, is itself a difficult philosophical issue...

Continue reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Equality by Stefan Gosepath

Related Topics

 Democracy | Feminism | Freedom | Justice | Power

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