The Size of Inequality and Its Badness Some reflections around Temkin's Inequality

Theoria 69 (1-2):60-84 (2003)
This paper puts forward the following claims: (i) The size of inequality in welfare should be distinguished from its badness. (ii) The size of a pairwise inequality between two individuals can be measured by the absolute or the relative welfare distance between their welfare levels, but it does not depend on the welfare levels of other individuals. (iii) The size of inequality in a social state may be understood either as the degree of pairwise inequality or as its amount. (iv) The badness of a pairwise inequality may differ from its size in several ways; for example, the badness measure might go by the distance between priority-transformed welfare levels and/or it might assign heavier weight to larger distances. (v) The badness of a pairwise inequality may be either personal or impersonal, with the personal interpretation being internally consistent and, pace Temkin, independently tenable even if we reject the so-called Slogan (i.e., the Person-Affecting Claim). (vi) The aggregation procedure by which we arrive from the badness of pairwise inequalities to the badness of the inequality in a social state takes different forms depending on whether the badness of a pairwise inequality is interpreted in a personal or in an impersonal way. (vii) Since Temkin’s complaint-based measures of the badness of inequality follow the format appropriate for the personal interpretation, they seem out of place if one, like him, treats the badness of inequality as an impersonal value.
Keywords inequality  equality  egalitarianism  Temkin, Larry  measures of inequality
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DOI 10.1111/j.1755-2567.2003.tb00754.x
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