As scientific progress approaches the point where significant human enhancements could become reality, debates arise whether such technologies should be made available. This paper evaluates the widespread concern that human enhancements will inevitably accentuate existing inequality and analyzes whether prohibition is the optimal public policy to avoid this outcome. Beyond these empirical questions, this paper considers whether the inequality objection is a sound argument against the set of enhancements most threatening to equality, i.e., cognitive enhancements. In doing so, (...) I shall argue that cognitive enhancements can be embraced wholeheartedly, for three separate reasons. However, though the inequality objection does not sufficiently support the conclusion that cognitive enhancements should be prohibited, it raises several concerns for optimal policy design that shall be addressed here. (shrink)
Temkin presents a new way of thinking about equality and inequality that challenges the assumptions of philosophers, welfare economists, and others, and has significant implications on both a practical and theoretical level.
In this book Larry Temkin examines the concepts of equality and inequality, and addresses one particular question in depth: how can we judge between different sorts of inequality? When is one inequality worse than another? Temkin shows that there are many different factors underlying and influencing our egalitarian judgments and that the notion of inequality is surprisingly complex. He looks at inequality as applied to individuals and to groups, and at the standard measures of (...) class='Hi'>inequality employed by economists and others, and considers whether inequality matters more in a poor society than a rich one. The arguments of non-egalitarians are also examined. Temkin's book presents a new way of thinking about equality and inequality which challenges the assumptions of philosophers, welfare economists, and others concerned with these notions on a practical as well as a theoretical level. (shrink)
This paper outlines the methodological and empirical limitations of analysing the potential relationship between complex social phenomena such as democracy and inequality. It shows that the means to assess how they may be related is much more limited than recognised in the existing literature that is laden with contradictory hypotheses and findings. Better understanding our scientific limitations in studying this potential relationship is important for research and policy because many leading economists and other social scientists such as Acemoglu and (...) Robinson mistakenly claim to identify causal linkages between inequality and democracy but at times still inform policy. In contrast to the existing literature, the paper argues that ‘structural’ or ‘causal’ mechanisms that may potentially link the distribution of economic wealth and different political regimes will remain unknown given reasons such as their highly complex and idiosyncratic characteristics, fundamental econometric constraints and analysis at the macro-level. Neither new data sources, different analysed time periods nor new data analysis techniques can resolve this question and provide robust, general conclusions about this potential relationship across countries. Researchers are thus restricted to exploring rough correlations over specific time periods and geographic contexts with imperfect data that are very limited for cross-country comparisons. (shrink)
I perform an economic and ethical analysis on wealth and income inequality. Economists have performed many statistical studies that reveal a number of, often contradictory, findings in connection with the distribution of wealth and income. Hence, the statistical findings leave us with no better knowledge of the effects that inequality has on economic progress. At the same time, the existing theoretical results have not provided us with a definitive answer concerning the effects of inequality on progress. By (...) gaining knowledge of the nature of inequality, and bringing basic economic principles to bear on the subject, we can come to an understanding of what the causal relationship is between inequality and economic progress. Furthermore, I apply a new theory of ethics – rational egoism – to assess economic inequality. I show that, in the right context, economic inequality is both economically and morally desirable. (shrink)
One of the unintended consequences of the New Public Management (NPM) in universities is often feared to be a division between elite institutions focused on research and large institutions with teaching missions. However, institutional isomorphisms provide counter-incentives. For example, university rankings focus on certain output parameters such as publications, but not on others (e.g., patents). In this study, we apply Gini coefficients to university rankings in order to assess whether universities are becoming more unequal, at the level of both the (...) world and individual nations. Our results do not support the thesis that universities are becoming more unequal. If anything, we predominantly find homogenisation, both at the level of the global comparisons and nationally. In a more restricted dataset (using only publications in the natural and life sciences), we find increasing inequality for those countries, which used NPM during the 1990s, but not during the 2000s. Our findings suggest that increased output steering from the policy side leads to a global conformation to performance standards. (shrink)
We analyze the role of ethical values in the determination of the social cost of carbon, arguing that the familiar debate about discounting is too narrow. Other ethical issues are equally important to computing the social cost of carbon, and we highlight inequality, risk, and population ethics. Although the usual approach, in the economics of cost-benefit analysis for climate policy, is confined to a utilitarian axiology, the methodology of the social cost of carbon is rather flexible and can be (...) expanded to a broader set of social-welfare approaches. [Open access]. (shrink)
This review essay looks at two important recent books on the empirical social science of inequality, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett's The Spirit Level and John Hills et al .'s Towards a More Equal Society? , situating these books against the important work of Michael Marmot on epidemiology and health inequalities. I argue that political philosophy can gain a great deal from careful engagement with empirical research on the nature and consequences of inequality, especially in regard to empirical (...) work on the relationship between socioeconomic inequality, status, self-respect, domination, autonomy, the quality of social relations, and societal health outcomes. The essay also raises some methodological questions about the approach taken by Wilkinson and Pickett, as well as questioning the ways in which their argument is (or is not) best understood as being fundamentally egalitarian in character. It concludes with some reflections, prompted by Hills et al ., on the lessons that should be learned by egalitarians from the experience of the Blair and Brown governments in the UK. (shrink)
Anyone familiar with The Economist knows the mantra: Free trade will ameliorate poverty by increasing growth and reducing inequality. This paper suggests that problems underlying measurement of poverty, inequality, and free trade provide reason to worry about this argument. Furthermore, the paper suggests that better evidence is necessary to establish that free trade is causing inequality and poverty to fall. Experimental studies usually provide the best evidence of causation. So, the paper concludes with a call for further (...) research into the prospects for ethically acceptable experimental testing of free trade's impact on poverty and inequality. Although the paper is unabashedly methodological, its conclusions bear on many ethical debates. Ethicists sometimes argue, for instance, that there is reason to encourage free trade because they believe free trade is decreasing poverty and inequality. Clarifying the empirical facts may not settle ethical debates but it may inform them. (shrink)
It is argued that the long standing failure to show an uncontroversial, loophole-free, empirical violation of a Bell inequality should be interpreted as a support to local realism. After defining realism and locality, this as relativistic causality, the performed experimental tests of Bell’s inequalities are commented. It is pointed out that, without any essential modification of quantum mechanics, the theory might be compatible with local realism.
Rawls argues that ‘Parties in the original position would wish to avoid at almost any cost the social conditions that undermine self-respect’. But what are these social conditions that we should so urgently avoid? One evident candidate might be conditions of material inequality. Yet Rawls seems confident that his account of justice can endorse such inequalities without jeopardising citizens’ self-respect. In this article I argue that this confidence is misplaced. Unequalising incentives, I claim, jeopardise the self-respect of those least (...) advantaged—at least under a Rawlsian schema—by undermining the very processes by which Rawls hopes to make distributional inequalities and self-respect compatible. I begin by setting out Rawls’s distinct account of self-respect before moving to describe how Rawls expects the difference principle to support citizens’ in this regard. I then draw upon GA Cohen’s distinction between ‘strict’ and ‘lax’ interpretations of the difference principle to argue that the presence of unequalising incentives undermines both the direct and indirect support that the difference principle can offer to citizens’ self-respect. As such, I claim that Rawls must either weaken his endorsement of unequalising incentives, or risk violating his ‘prior commitment’ to avoiding social conditions harmful to citizens’ self-respect. (shrink)
The history of the documentation of health inequality is long. The way in which health inequality has customarily been documented is by comparing differences in the average health across groups, for example, by sex or gender, income, education, occupation, or geographic region. In the controversial World Health Report 2000, researchers at the World Health Organization criticized this traditional practice and proposed to measure health inequality across individuals irrespective of individuals’ group affiliation. They defended its proposal on the (...) moral grounds without clear explanation. In this paper I ask: is health inequality across individuals of moral concern, and, if so, why? Clarification of these questions is crucial for meaningful interpretation of health inequality measured across individuals. Only if there was something morally problematic in health inequality across individuals, its reduction would be good news. Specifically, in this paper I provide three arguments for the moral significance of health inequality across individuals: (a) health is special, (b) health equity plays an important and unique role in the general pursuit of justice, and (c) health inequality is an indicator of general injustice in society. I then discuss three key questions to examine the validity of these arguments: (i) how special is health?, (ii) how good is health as an indicator?, and (iii) what do we mean by injustice? I conclude that health inequality across individuals is of moral interest with the arguments (b) and (c). (shrink)
This article examines, experimentally, whether inequality affects the social capital of trust in non-market and market settings. We consider three experimental treatments, one with equality, one with inequality but no knowledge of the income of other agents, and one with inequality and knowledge. Inequality, particularly when it is known, has a corrosive effect on trusting behaviours in this experiment. Agents appear to be less sensitive to known relative income differentials in markets than they are in the (...) non-market settings, but trust in markets appears generally more vulnerable to the introduction of inequality than in the non-market setting. (shrink)
We make use of natural induction to propose, following John Ju Sakurai, a generalization of Bell's inequality for two spin s=n/2(n=1,2,...) particle systems in a singlet state. We have found that for any finite integer or half-integer spin Bell's inequality is violated when the terms in the inequality are calculated from a quantum mechanical point of view. In the final expression for this inequality the two members therein are expressed in terms of a single parameter θ. (...) Violation occurs for θ in some interval of the form (α,π/2) where α parameter becomes closer and closer to π/2, as the spin grows, that is, the greater the spin number the size of the interval in which violation occurs diminishes to zero. Bell's inequality is a relationship among observables that discriminates between Einstein's locality principle and the non-local point of view of orthodox quantum mechanics. So our conclusion may also be stated by saying that for large spin numbers the non-local and local points of view agree. (shrink)
Tim Maudlin argues that we should take facts about distance to be analyzed in terms of facts about path lengths. His reason is that if we take distances to be fundamental, we must stipulate that constraints like the triangle inequality hold, but we get these constraints for free if we take path lengths to be prior. I argue that Maudlin is mistaken. Even if we take path lengths as primitive, the triangle inequality follows only if we stipulate that (...) the fundamental properties and relations obey constraints that are just as puzzling as the triangle inequality. (shrink)
Antisocial punishment—punishment of pro-social cooperators—has shown to be detrimental for the efficiency of informal punishment mechanisms in public goods games. The motives behind antisocial punishment acts are not yet well understood. This article shows that inequality aversion predicts antisocial punishment in public goods games with punishment. The model by Fehr and Schmidt (Q J Econ 114(3): 817–868, 1999) allows to derive conditions under which antisocial punishment occurs. With data from three studies on public goods games with punishment I evaluate (...) the predictions. A majority of the observed antisocial punishment acts are not compatible with inequality aversion. These results suggest that the desire to equalize payoffs is not a major determinant of antisocial punishment. (shrink)
We argue that the concepts of `human equality' and `inequality' play an important role in the structure of science and philosophy. When the value of `human inequality' predominates, scientific categories are formed in accordance with the principle of `hierarchical differentiation' and concepts remain closely tied to the objects they are referring to. Following Mirowski we define this as the `anthropometric stage' of human thought and development. Contrary, Mirowski's `syndetic stage' refers to societies where the value of `human equality' (...) prevails. Here concepts appear that are universally applicable. However, because of their conventional nature these concepts cannot be `grasped' any longer by human intuition. Between the `anthropometric' and `syndetic' stages, a `lineamentric stage' appears, a period of transition from `human equality' to `human inequality'. Being both a bridge and gap between the two other stages, the `lineamentric' stage contains many contradictions between an `abstract attitude' and `concrete categories'. In this paper we examine the anthropometric, lineamentric and syndetic stages and discuss several examples taken from philosophy, logic, mathematics and physics. (shrink)
Luck egalitarianism is the view that inequalities are justified when and only when a particular condition is met. Recent years have seen considerable debate about the exact nature of the risky choices thought by luck egalitarians to justify inequality. All positions in the debate emphasise the importance of choice, but they differ in the precise details of how choice features in the inequality-justifying condition. The present paper argues for a novel view about the conditions under which risky choices (...) should justify choice in a manner that uncovers ambiguity and flaws in existing positions. It rejects existing accounts and develops a new hypothetical choice based account of inequality-justifying risk. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
This note presents a very simple way of interpreting the Gini coefficient of inequality, in `equivalent' welfare terms, as the proportion of a cake of given size going to the poorer of two individuals in a two-person cake-sharing problem.
I argue that asymmetries in taste and talent can explain markets in bodily services, just as they explain other kinds of work. While inequality is a powerful explanation for participation in bodily-service markets, such markets are not unique in their reliance on inequality. Finally, I address another kind of inequality that deserves our attention -- the advantage of the providers of bodily services over those who require them. While those who suffer from infertility or face the terror (...) of organ failure may have a financial advantage over others, they may still be worse off than fertile and organ-rich people who suffer economic or social disadvantage. Egalitarians ought to concern themselves with the whole scope of disadvantage, not just economic disadvantage. (shrink)
This paper develops a model of political consensus in order to explain the missing link between inequality and political redistribution. Political consensus is an implicit agreement not to vote for extreme policy proposals. We show that such an agreement may play an efficiency-enhancing role. Voters anticipate that voting for extremist parties increases policy uncertainty in the future. A political consensus among voters reduces policy uncertainty because self-interested politicians propose non-discriminatory policies. We study how much inequality can be sustained (...) in a democracy and how the limits to redistribution vary with initial inequality. The bounds of the set of political equilibria may react in a fundamentally different manner to changes in exogenous variables than do the policy variables in the one-dimensional, one-shot game. More initial inequality need not lead to more redistribution from the rich to the poor. The maximum amount of redistribution decreases with inequality if (and only if) agents are sufficiently patient. In this case inequality is politically self-sustaining. (shrink)
In this paper I demonstrate that the quantum correlations of polarization observables used in Bell’s argument against local realism have to be interpreted as conditional quantum correlations. By taking into account additional sources of randomness in Bell’s type experiments, i.e., supplementary to source randomness, I calculate the complete quantum correlations. The main message of the quantum theory of measurement is that complete correlations can be essentially smaller than the conditional ones. Additional sources of randomness diminish correlations. One can say another (...) way around: transition from unconditional correlations to conditional can increase them essentially. This is true for both classical and quantum probability. The final remark is that classical conditional correlations do not satisfy Bell’s inequality. Thus we met the following conditional probability dilemma: either to use the conditional quantum probabilities, as was done by Bell and others, or complete quantum correlations. However, in the first case the corresponding classical conditional correlations need not satisfy Bell’s inequality and in the second case the complete quantum correlations satisfy Bell’s inequality. Thus in neither case we have a problem of mismatching of classical and quantum correlations. The whole structure of Bell’s argument was based on identification of conditional quantum correlations with unconditional classical correlations. (shrink)
The article presents two main arguments. First, we claim that in contemporary societies, insurance enacts peculiar kinds of solidarities as well as inequality and exclusion. Especially important in this respect are life, health, disability and old age pension insurance, both in compulsory and voluntary forms. Second, the article maintains that the ideas of solidarity, inequality and exclusion are transformed by the machinery of insurance. In other words, the concrete ways in which insurance relations are practically arranged have an (...) effect on the ways in which the related moral and political concepts are perceived. We elaborate on three different forms of insurance solidarity, which we call chance, risk and income solidarity. The existence of multiple forms of solidarity relevant to insurance is significant because practices of insurance require decisions concerning what kind of solidarity is emphasised, when it is emphasised, and on what grounds. Moreover, what is solidarity for some can entail exclusion and inequality for others. Showing these internal tensions within insurance practice underlines the inherently political and moral nature of insurance. (shrink)
Some political philosophers have recently argued that providing K–12 students with an adequate education suffices for social justice in education provided that the threshold of educational adequacy is properly understood. Others have argued that adequacy is insufficient for social justice. In this article I side with the latter group. I extend this debate to racial inequality in education by considering the controversial practice of paying students cash for grades to close the racial achievement gap. I then argue that framing (...) the demand for racial justice in education solely in terms of educational adequacy leaves us unable to take issue with the cash for grades policy as a matter of principle. While this does not entail that educational adequacy is unimportant, it adds to the general case for why adequacy does not suffice for social justice. (shrink)
One of the more obscure arguments for Rawls’ difference principle dubbed ‘the Pareto argument for inequality’ has been criticised by G. A. Cohen (1995, 2008) as being inconsistent. In this paper, we examine and clarify the Pareto argument in detail and argue (1) that justification for the Pareto principles derives from rational selfinterest and thus the Pareto principles ought to be understood as conditions of individual rationality, (2) that the Pareto argument is not inconsistent, contra Cohen, and (3) that (...) the kind of bargaining model required to arrive at the particular unequal distribution that the difference principle picks out is a model that is not based on bargaining according to one’s threat advantage. (shrink)
This article focuses on the welfare state, which includes social protection, health, education and training, housing, and social services, but can also be conceived more broadly to include policies that affect earnings capacity and the structure of the labour market. It discusses the difficulties of capturing the impact of the welfare state on income inequality, given that one does not observe what the distribution would be in the absence of the welfare state or specific aspects of it. Theories of (...) welfare state redistribution are reviewed, and the conventional categorization into welfare ‘regimes’ discussed. The empirical evidence about the extent and nature of redistribution by the welfare state is described, including noncash services as well as cash transfers, and the impact on poverty in particular is discussed. Economic inequality is also strongly affected by the political process, and vice versa. (shrink)
This article assesses the changing economic status of women, the forces driving it, and its implications for inequality between women and men and among women. Section 2 reviews women's growing labour market participation and its changing occupational structure. Section 3 analyzes the extent and sources of the gender pay gap. Section 4 reviews two of the major drivers of recent economic change for women: the transformation of their educational status, and the impact of technology. Section 5 addresses the implications (...) of women's rising employment and earnings for household inequality and their changing fertility patterns. Section 6 examines the contribution of the legal framework to reducing inequality. Section 7 concludes with pointers to areas for further research. (shrink)
This article deals with happiness and inequality. Section 2 gives an explanation of the neo-classical negative attitude towards happiness as an operational concept, differentiating between ordinal and cardinal happiness. Section 3 introduces the happiness economics literature and the so-called Leyden School, which can be viewed as a forerunner of present-day happiness economics. Section 4 concentrates on the effect of income inequality in a given country on the individual's feelings of happiness. Section 5 considers current attempts to characterize the (...)inequality of the distribution of happiness and how that may be decomposed. Section 6 concludes. (shrink)
When it comes to improving the health of the general population, mHealth technologies with self-monitoring and intervention components hold a lot of promise. We argue, however, that due to various factors such as access, targeting, personal resources or incentives, self-monitoring applications run the risk of increasing health inequalities, thereby creating a problem of social justice. We review empirical evidence for “intervention-generated” inequalities, present arguments that self-monitoring applications are still morally acceptable, and develop approaches to avoid the promotion of health inequalities (...) through self-monitoring applications. (shrink)
This article provides an introduction to methods for the measurement of economic inequality. It reviews the inequality measures that economists have developed, and explains how one might choose between indices or check whether conclusions about inequality difference can be derived without choosing any specific index. It reviews mobility measurement and some fundamental questions about how the distributions of economic interest are defined.
This article surveys the distribution of wealth and its relationship to economic inequality more broadly. It shows that wealth inequality is high and contributes significantly to inequality in income and consumption, although higher wealth inequality is not always an indicator of greater inequality in well-being. In particular, welfare state policies can improve the well-being of low income groups while at the same time reducing their incentive to save. This may lead to high observed wealth (...) class='Hi'>inequality in places where it would otherwise not be expected, such as some of the Scandinavian countries. More research is needed to better illuminate such connections between public policy and wealth inequality. (shrink)
In this note we demonstrate that the results of observations in the EPR–Bohm–Bell experiment can be described within the classical probabilistic framework. However, the “quantum probabilities” have to be interpreted as conditional probabilities, where conditioning is with respect to fixed experimental settings. Our approach is based on the complete account of randomness involved in the experiment. The crucial point is that randomness of selections of experimental settings has to be taken into account within one consistent framework covering all events related (...) to the experiment. This approach can be applied to any complex experiment in which statistical data are collected for various experimental settings. (shrink)
This article assesses the impact of changing demography on inequality and poverty. Section 2 considers how household living arrangements affect personal economic well-being and its distribution across the population. Section 3 looks at recent evidence on the inequality effects of demographic trends. These trends include the rise of cross-border migration, population ageing, delays in first marriage and first births, increases in the rate of divorce, rising female employment rates, and changes in the correlation of husbands' and wives' earnings. (...) The article concludes with a brief discussion of unresolved issues in assessing the impact of demography on trends in inequality. (shrink)
This article uses a well-defined setting to suggest an optimistic view about the distributional effects of immigration. Section 2 provides a general picture of the native-immigrant differences in labour force participation, unemployment, and occupational and educational attainment, taking skill levels and years since immigration into account. Section 3 investigates the inequality impact of immigration by summarizing the potential labour market impacts and the wage and employment consequences. Section 4 deals with the potentially slow integration of immigrants into the labour (...) market of the host country, as well as with the role that self-selection and selection through politically set admission rules can play for the performance in the labour market. It also considers cultural or ethnic identity as an independent factor potentially affecting economic success and discusses the consequences for inequality. Section 5 concludes. (shrink)
This article summarizes the recent evidence on global poverty and inequality, including both developed and developing countries. Section 1 discusses poverty and inequality data and presents evidence on levels and recent trends in poverty and inequality around the world. Section 2 turns to the issues involved in aggregating inequality indices across countries, in order to construct a meaningful measure of global inequality. Section 3 discusses the empirical relationship between economic growth, poverty, and inequality dynamics. (...) Section 4 turns to the likely economic determinants of poverty and inequality changes. Section 5 offers some conclusions, and points to some promising research themes within this general topic. (shrink)
This article documents and provides explanations for levels of and trends in earnings inequality, with a central focus on international differences in these outcomes. It concentrates on OECD countries, which are largely advanced industrialized nations, and typically have similar levels of labour productivity but often very different labour market institutions and changes in the supply of or demand for labour of various skill levels. As a result, one can use international differences to test hypotheses about the role of supply (...) and demand and institutions in influencing levels and trends in earnings inequality. The article first provides an analytical framework for understanding earnings inequality in which labour earnings are distinguished from wage rates. It then places inequality of wage rates in a supply and demand framework, augmented by consideration of labour market institutions. Next, after providing some data on the extent of earnings and wage inequality across countries and over time, it discusses evidence on the determinants of differences and changes in earnings inequality. (shrink)
This article focuses on the role of unions and their influence on economic inequality. Section 2 reviews the literature regarding the union effect on wages and wage inequality. Section 3 considers the separate contributions of union power, membership composition, bargaining coordination, and wage policy. Section 4 introduces the distinction between membership and coverage, while the following two sections discuss the impact of union power on earnings inequality when coverage is either exclusive or inclusive. Section 7 discusses the (...) rationale for unions aiming for wage compression while Section 8 estimates how the presence of trade unions has influenced the extent and dynamics of earnings inequality across advanced economies during the 1980s and 1990s. For this purpose indicators have been developed for trends in equality and union presence from different sources. Section 9 concludes. (shrink)
This article focuses on the relationship of employer behaviour to labour market inequalities. Matched employer-employee data are casting an important new light on how variation in wage setting practices across firms can affect the structure of earnings and earnings mobility. It shows that very different wages are paid to equivalent labour across and within firms. It also argues that policies targeting firm selection of workers may affect inequality as much as policies of training and education.