Inequalities is, along with the theme of health, the subject of the Contemporary Issues test of the 2015 IEP exam, 2nd year entry.
General definition of Inequalities
The following definition is taken from the Dictionary of the French Academy (9th edition) which gives 3 meanings to the term “inequality”.
1. The state of two or more things or beings whose value, importance, quality, etc., is not the same. By metonymy. Social and fiscal inequalities. Absolutely. The fight against inequalities.
2. In mathematics, relation of order between two numbers, two distinct quantities; formula expressing such a relation by means of agreed signs.
3. Lack of uniformity, regularity, constancy.
Inequalities as a theme of study immediately acquires a social, economic
immediately acquires a social, economic, or political meaning.
Comment on the definition of Inequalities:
The term inequalities has the advantage of being clear, even too clear.
Indeed, it is so clear that dictionaries have a hard time explaining it: almost all of them define it as“that which is not equal“, as opposed to equality, which of course is not particularly judicious since they almost reuse the word itself in the explanation.
Inequalities as a theme
What is important to remember about this notion, as applied to society, is the metonymic use of the word:“Social, fiscal inequalities. Absolutely. The fight against inequality.”
Inequalities, in the sense of a general theme, are mostly social and economic. They refer to differences in conditions between individuals.
→ Summary of The Wealth of Nations – Adam Smith