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Inequality Reexamined Paperback – February 17, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0674452565 ISBN-10: 0674452569 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Reprint edition (February 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674452569
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674452565
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #654,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

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 Time)

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 Times Literary Supplement)

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 American Political Science Review)

A deeply learned book. (Aaron Wildavsky Journal of Public Policy)

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 London Review of Books)

About the Author

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

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Garett Jones on August 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
Sen, a Nobel prize winner, has had many great ideas in his career, but this book just sticks to a few of them. The big point he hits early on is that all political theories are theories of egalitarianism: The only difference is how they answer the question, "Equality of what?"

For instance, libertarians believe that everyone has an equal right to negative liberty, utilitarians believe in a right to an equal weighting in the arithmetic social well-being function, and Rawlsians believe in a right to equal "basic goods."

Where does Sen fit in? A little hard to tell from this work--he's good at the "consider this alternative" style of writing--but he emphasizes a blend of utilitarianism and Rawlsianism, one that takes seriously what it would really mean to give every human being a decent shot at a humane life. His standards are actually quite low--non-utopian to be sure--but he looks in every nook and cranny and finds much more than you'd expect.

In particular, Sen emphasizes how accidents of birth such as health create an underlying inequality across people that often can only be reversed at great expense. On a non-health-related issue, I often ask myself how many tax dollars the people of Britain had to pay to ensure that Salman Rushdie was able to enjoy his right to life and his right to free speech. The point, of course, is that it often costs quite a bit to guarantee some citizens the bare minimum of liberty.

So egalitarianism requires unequal government action, as Rushdie himself could tell you. In many different ways, Sen makes this point throughout his text.
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68 of 84 people found the following review helpful By James Versluys on July 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
I read this book in one sitting, and let me say it is a great book.
It is odd so few books are written on such a basic philosophical question as equality, and reading mister Sen is akin to drinking a cold glass of water for a man in a desert of political philosophy.
The prose is somewhat weak, the stye is stilted, and that oddly only seems to add to mister Sens' achievement: I never get the feeling that when I turn the next page I will be bored or watch him say something unnecessarily pedantic. The whole book is carried solely by the interesting subject at hand and mister Sens endlessly excellent commentary on it.
That having been said, I agree with none of it. I do not value equality in any way, and my politics are thoroughly aristocratic and Old Right. So perhaps the possible reader should take that into account: I have nothing but praise for mister Sens books, and this book in particular is an excellent dive. Perhaps praise from a trenchant enemy is worth more than praise from the ideologically like minded.
I will be reading it and making notes and attacks on it for a year to come, at the very least. No matter how you view equality, I advocate mister Sen without reservation. This is excellent. Please buy it.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By James Igoe on June 5, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The most basic idea, that one person's equality is another's inequality, is explored in detail. Sen illuminates many of the flaws in standard economic thinking, and how the philosophical underpinnings of economics guide and distort economic reasoning.
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6 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
Amartya Sen really questions the very foundations that determine of what is equality and development. It is indeed a marvellous piece of work.
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1 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Diane on March 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
I just received my copy of this book thinking it contained current ideas of Amartya Sen only to discover it was published in 1992. Maybe they are still relevant. The one star is for the incorrect publishing info.
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