What is our Real Concern with Real Inequality?

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In this article, I offer an account of when and why inequality is problematic. I build this account upon the central elements of the sufficiency view—that justice is concerned with eliminating noncomparative deficiencies rather than comparative inequalities. The account that I develop here is concerned with an inequality if, and only if, it involves an instance of noncomparative deficiency; either material or social. I then conduct an analysis of suggested reasons to care about inequality identified in recent studies of the politics of inequality, and I argue that the sufficiency account can explain the reasons that empiricists give for their concern with inequality. Upon that analysis, I conclude that we have strong reasons to be concerned with inequalities, but that these reasons stem from our acceptance of the sufficiency view rather than from an intrinsic worry with inequality.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolicy Studies Journal
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)553-572
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • inequality
  • sufficiency
  • theory


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