Scanlon And Wilkinson's Two Main Reasons For The Elimination Of Inequalities

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Both Scanlon and Wilkinson give instrumental arguments against socio-economic inequalities. First both views are summarized, after which the main differences between their views is highlighted.
Scanlon gives five diverse reasons for the elimination of inequalities in societies (Scanlon, 1996: 2-5). The first reason is at base a humanitarian concern, for example to alleviate suffering. If some people are living under terrible conditions, the gap between the rich and the poor provides the opportunity to reduce the suffering of those people, without causing others to suffer a similar fate. The second reason for objecting inequality is that people should not be treated as inferior or made to feel inferior, for example through privileges of rank
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The first main difference is that the argument Wilkinson gives is based on empirical data-analysis, while Scanlon’s reasons are not. The second main difference is that we need to reduce inequality in order to improve the average well-being of our societies , because inequalities lead to deteriorations in social relations, health and human capital according to Wilkinson, but according to Scanlon we don’t always need to intervene to reduce inequality. The force of the first reason Scanlon gives for the elimination of inequalities fades away if the situation of both rich and poor greatly improves, also if the difference between them is the same or has even increased. The same goes for the third reason Scanlon gives for objecting inequality: if inequality doesn’t give some people an unacceptable degree of control over the lives of other, then inequality is allowed. Also the fourth reason for pursuing equality can be compatible with large inequalities, it is only required that they result from a fair process. The last reason Scanlon gives in his article might also be a fairly weak one. If it is assumed that other things equal, all individuals have equal claims to welfare, then much depends on how many things there are that might not be equal. For example, people ought to be equal in the levels of welfare they enjoy, except for differences in welfare resulting from people’s own free choices, which may also result in inequality. Only according to the second reason Scanlon gives for objecting inequality we always need to eliminate the differences in question. The third main difference is that Scanlon’s second reason for objecting inequality is that people should not be treated as inferior or made to feel inferior and therefore people need to be protected against reasonable and undeserved feelings of loss of self-esteem, but according to Wilkinson that’s not a reason for objecting inequality, though
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