Economics and Philosophy vol:19 issue:2 pages:241-263
This paper examines how people assess inequality of income distribution and how inequality could be measured. We start from the philosophical analysis of Temkin, who distinguishes nine plausible aspects of inequality. His approach is based on the concept of ‘complaints’ or distances between incomes. We examine the Temkin approach by means of the questionnaire-experimental method pioneered by Amiel and Cowell to find out whether the aspects of equality have any plausibility for student respondents and, if so, whether there are aspects which are more appealing than others. Both the numerical and verbal responses show that a considerable majority of the respondents might be influenced by the intuitions included in the combination of the Weighted Additive Principle and the Average view of complaints. The questionnaire results also shed some empirical light on the acceptance of the Transfer Principle and the attitudes towards the Sequence.