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On Inequality

by Harry G Frankfurt Princeton University Press
Pub Date:
10/2015
ISBN:
9780691167145
Format:
Hbk 120 pages
Price:
AU$29.99 NZ$30.43
Product Status: In Stock Now
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Economic inequality is one of the most divisive issues of our time. Yet few would argue that inequality is a greater evil than poverty. The poor suffer because they don’t have enough, not because others have more, and some have far too much. So why do many people appear to be more distressed by the rich than by the poor?

In this provocative book, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of On Bullshit presents a compelling and unsettling response to those who believe that the goal of social justice should be economic equality or less inequality. Harry Frankfurt, one of the most influential moral philosophers in the world, argues that we are morally obligated to eliminate poverty not achieve equality or reduce inequality. Our focus should be on making sure everyone has a sufficient amount to live a decent life. To focus instead on inequality is distracting and alienating.

At the same time, Frankfurt argues that the conjunction of vast wealth and poverty is offensive. If we dedicate ourselves to making sure everyone has enough, we may reduce inequality as a side effect. But its essential to see that the ultimate goal of justice is to end poverty, not inequality.

A serious challenge to cherished beliefs on both the political left and right, On Inequality promises to have a profound impact on one of the great debates of our time.


Preface ix

1 Economic Equality as a Moral Ideal 1

2 Equality and Respect 63

Acknowledgments 91

Notes 93


“Economic equality is one of today’s most overrated ideas, and Harry G. Frankfurt’s highly compelling book explains exactly why.”—Tyler Cowen, author of Average Is Over

“Relevant, persuasive, and a pleasure to read, this is the sort of philosophy that ought to be more widely available.”—Gideon A. Rosen, Princeton University

“Many people who worry about inequality will want to read this wonderful book and will be profoundly influenced by Frankfurt’s clear and forceful arguments. In part, he argues that if we are preoccupied with equality rather than with alleviating poverty we will be estranged from our own lives. That insight alone is worth the price of the book.”—Richard Robb, Columbia University
Harry G. Frankfurt is professor emeritus of philosophy at Princeton University. His books include the #1 New York Times bestseller On Bullshit and The Reasons of Love (both Princeton).