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Inequality Reexamined

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Overview

In this deft analysis, Amartya Sen argues that the dictum "all men are created equal" serves largely to deflect attention from the fact that we differ in age, gender, talents, physical abilities as well as in material advantages and social background. He argues for concentrating on higher and more basic values: individual capabilities and freedom to achieve objectives.
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Editorial Reviews

Time

Amartya Sen, [the 1998] Nobel Prizewinner in Economics, has helped give voice to the world's poor. And that is no small matter, for the very lives of the world's poor may depend on having their voices heard. In a lifetime of careful scholarship, Sen has repeatedly returned to a basic theme: even impoverished societies can improve the well-being of their least advantaged members. Societies that attend to the poorest of the poor can save their lives, promote their longevity and increase their opportunities through education and productive work. Societies that neglect the poor, on the other hand, may inadvertently allow millions to die of famine—even in the middle of an economic boom, as occurred during the great famine in Bengal, India, in 1943, the subject of Sen's most famous case study...Sen [delivers a] powerful message: annual income growth is not enough to achieve development. Societies must pay attention to social goals as well, always leaning toward their most vulnerable citizens, and overcoming deep-rooted biases to invest in the health and well-being of girls as well as boys. In a world in which 1.5 billion people subsist on less than $1 a day, this Nobel Prize can be not just a celebration of a wonderful scholar but also a clarion call to attend to the urgent needs and hopes of the world's poor.
— Jeffrey Sachs

London Review of Books

Sen's acute analysis and his remarkable powers of making subtle and relevant distinctions combine with his astonishing range of information to make instruments suitable for immediate political application.
— Bernard Williams

Times Literary Supplement

Amartya Sen has distilled a decade's reflection on questions of equality, poverty, and welfare into [this] book...Economic philosophers will be glad to see Sen's ideas summarized and interwoven...He is certainly a master of his craft.
— David Miller

American Political Science Review

Sen brings a hard-edged intellect to regions of thought usually regarded as slushy and amorphous. The results are impressive...Anyone interested in the topics of freedom, equality, or justice would profit from a close reading of this book.
— Richard J. Arneson

Journal of Public Policy

A deeply learned book.
— Aaron Wildavsky

Time - Jeffrey Sachs
Amartya Sen, [the 1998] Nobel Prizewinner in Economics, has helped give voice to the world's poor. And that is no small matter, for the very lives of the world's poor may depend on having their voices heard. In a lifetime of careful scholarship, Sen has repeatedly returned to a basic theme: even impoverished societies can improve the well-being of their least advantaged members. Societies that attend to the poorest of the poor can save their lives, promote their longevity and increase their opportunities through education and productive work. Societies that neglect the poor, on the other hand, may inadvertently allow millions to die of famine--even in the middle of an economic boom, as occurred during the great famine in Bengal, India, in 1943, the subject of Sen's most famous case study...Sen [delivers a] powerful message: annual income growth is not enough to achieve development. Societies must pay attention to social goals as well, always leaning toward their most vulnerable citizens, and overcoming deep-rooted biases to invest in the health and well-being of girls as well as boys. In a world in which 1.5 billion people subsist on less than $1 a day, this Nobel Prize can be not just a celebration of a wonderful scholar but also a clarion call to attend to the urgent needs and hopes of the world's poor.
Times Literary Supplement - David Miller
Amartya Sen has distilled a decade's reflection on questions of equality, poverty, and welfare into [this] book...Economic philosophers will be glad to see Sen's ideas summarized and interwoven...He is certainly a master of his craft.
American Political Science Review - Richard J. Arneson
Sen brings a hard-edged intellect to regions of thought usually regarded as slushy and amorphous. The results are impressive...Anyone interested in the topics of freedom, equality, or justice would profit from a close reading of this book.
Journal of Public Policy - Aaron Wildavsky
A deeply learned book.
London Review of Books - Bernard Williams
Sen's acute analysis and his remarkable powers of making subtle and relevant distinctions combine with his astonishing range of information to make instruments suitable for immediate political application.
Time
Amartya Sen, [the 1998] Nobel Prizewinner in Economics, has helped give voice to the world's poor. And that is no small matter, for the very lives of the world's poor may depend on having their voices heard. In a lifetime of careful scholarship, Sen has repeatedly returned to a basic theme: even impoverished societies can improve the well-being of their least advantaged members. Societies that attend to the poorest of the poor can save their lives, promote their longevity and increase their opportunities through education and productive work. Societies that neglect the poor, on the other hand, may inadvertently allow millions to die of famine--even in the middle of an economic boom, as occurred during the great famine in Bengal, India, in 1943, the subject of Sen's most famous case study...Sen [delivers a] powerful message: annual income growth is not enough to achieve development. Societies must pay attention to social goals as well, always leaning toward their most vulnerable citizens, and overcoming deep-rooted biases to invest in the health and well-being of girls as well as boys. In a world in which 1.5 billion people subsist on less than $1 a day, this Nobel Prize can be not just a celebration of a wonderful scholar but also a clarion call to attend to the urgent needs and hopes of the world's poor.
— Jeffrey Sachs
Times Literary Supplement
Amartya Sen has distilled a decade's reflection on questions of equality, poverty, and welfare into [this] book...Economic philosophers will be glad to see Sen's ideas summarized and interwoven...He is certainly a master of his craft.
— David Miller
American Political Science Review
Sen brings a hard-edged intellect to regions of thought usually regarded as slushy and amorphous. The results are impressive...Anyone interested in the topics of freedom, equality, or justice would profit from a close reading of this book.
— Richard J. Arneson
Journal of Public Policy
A deeply learned book.
— Aaron Wildavsky
London Review of Books
Sen's acute analysis and his remarkable powers of making subtle and relevant distinctions combine with his astonishing range of information to make instruments suitable for immediate political application.
— Bernard Williams
Booknews
Sen (economics and philosophy, Harvard U.) shows how all the major approaches to the ethics of social arrangements demand equality of something, but not of the same thing. Because when some things are equal others are not, he argues, let us equalize higher and more basic values, such as the freedom to achieve objectives. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Amartya Sen, winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics, is Lamont University Professor, Harvard University.
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Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction: Questions and Themes

1. Equality of What?

1.1 Why Equality? What Equality?

1.2 Impartiality and Equality

1.3 Human Diversity and Basal Equality

1.4 Equality versus Liberty?

1.5 Plurality and Alleged Emptiness

1.6 Means and Freedoms

1.7 Income Distribution, Well-Being and Freedom

2. Freedom, Achievement and Resources

2.1 Freedom and Choice

2.2 Real Income, Opportunities and Selection

2.3 Freedom Distinguished from Resources

3. Functionings and Capability

3.1 Capability Sets

3.2 Value Objects and Evaluative Spaces

3.3 Selection and Weighting

3.4 Incompleteness: Fundamental and Pragmatic

3.5 Capability or Functionings?

3.6 Utility vis-ˆ-vis Capability

4. Freedom, Agency and Well-Being

4.1 Well-Being vis-à-vis Agency

4.2 Agency, Instrumentality and Realization

4.3 Can Freedom Conflict with Well-Being?

4.4 Freedom and Disadvantageous Choices

4.5 Control and Effective Freedom

4.6 Freedom from Hunger, Malaria and Other Maladies

4.7 The Relevance of Well-Being

5. Justice and Capability

5.1 The Informational Bases of Justice

5.2 Rawlsian Justice and the Political Conception

5.3 Primary Goods and Capabilities

5.4 Diversities: Ends and Personal Characteristics

6. Welfare Economics and Inequality

6.1 Space Choice and Evaluative Purpose

6.2 Shortfalls, Attainments and Potentials

6.3 Inequality, Welfare and Justice

6.4 Welfare-Based Inequality Evaluation

7. Poverty and Affluence

7.1 Inequality and Poverty

7.2 The Nature of Poverty

7.3 Lowness vis-à-vis Inadequacy of Incomes

7.4 Do Concepts Matter?

7.5 Poverty in Rich Countries

8. Class, Gender and Other Groups

8.1 Class and Classification

8.2 Gender and Inequality

8.3 Interregional Contrasts

9. The Demands Of Equality

9.1 Questions of Equality

9.2 Equality, Space and Diversity

9.3 Plurality, Incompleteness and Evaluation

9.4 Data, Observations and Effective Freedoms

9.5 Aggregation, Egalitarianism and Efficiency

9.6 Alternative Defences of Inequality

9.7 Incentives, Diversity and Egalitarianism

9.8 On Equality as a Social Concern

9.9 Responsibility and Fairness

9.10 Capability, Freedom and Motivations

References

Index of Names

Index of Subjects

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