The Social Effects of Economic Inequality
Q&A Radio: 20 October 2013, Question 1
I answered a question on the social effects of economic inequality on 20 October 2013. You can listen to or download the podcast of just this question below – or check out the whole episode of Philosophy in Action Radio.
Is an egalitarian society a better society? In his 2009 book "The Spirit Level," Richard Wilkinson argues that income inequality has a broad range of negative effects on society. According to the summary on Wikipedia, "It claims that for each of eleven different health and social problems: physical health, mental health, drug abuse, education, imprisonment, obesity, social mobility, trust and community life, violence, teenage pregnancies, and child well-being, outcomes are significantly worse in more unequal rich countries." Are these egalitarian arguments wrong? If so, what's the best approach to refuting them?
My Answer, In Brief: While Richard Wilkinson's statistics are intriguing, the fact is that mere inequality cannot be the root cause of social ills. Undoubtedly, the his collectivist proposal to compel greater equality for the good of society is neither a moral nor a practical solution to any social problems.
- Duration: 21:13
- Download: MP3 Segment (7.3 MB)
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- Wikipedia: The Spirit Level
- TED: How economic inequality harms societies by Richard Wilkinson
- The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger by Richard Wilkinson
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About Philosophy in Action
I'm Dr. Diana Brickell (formerly Diana Hsieh). I'm a philosopher, and I've long specialized in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I completed my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. I retired from work as a public intellectual in 2015.
From September 2009 to September 2015, I produced a radio show and podcast, Philosophy in Action Radio. In the primary show, my co-host Greg Perkins and I answered questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life. We broadcast live over the internet on Sunday mornings.
My first book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck." My second book (and online course), Explore Atlas Shrugged, is a fantastic resource for anyone wishing to study Ayn Rand's epic novel in depth.
I can be reached via e-mail to [email protected].