The Facts of Inequality

Journal of Moral Philosophy 7 (3):397-409 (2010)


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

Download options


    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,743

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

145 (#83,106)

6 months
2 (#258,871)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Martin O'Neill
University of York

Similar books and articles

Is Inequality Bad for Our Health?Jeffrey D. Milyo & Jennifer M. Mellor - 1999 - Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society 13 (3-4):359-372.
Inequality.Larry S. Temkin - 1986 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 15 (2):99-121.
Inequality: Strategies of Overcoming.Irina Mitina - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 50:459-467.
Free Trade, Poverty, and Inequality.Nicole Hassoun - 2011 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 8 (1):5-44.
Does Inequality Matter—for its Own Sake?Alan Ryan - 2002 - Social Philosophy and Policy 19 (1):225-243.
Reparations and Racial Inequality.Derrick Darby - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (1):55-66.
Reassessment of Leggett Inequality.Antonio Di Lorenzo - 2013 - Foundations of Physics 43 (5):685-698.
Inequality and Markets in Bodily Services.Jessica Flanigan - 2013 - Political Theory 41 (1):144-150.
Two Conceptions of Inequality.Caj Strandberg - 2001 - Philosophical Papers 30 (2):169–199.