"Inequalities: Are They Always Unjust?"

Lucas Charbonnier

Hatched by Lucas Charbonnier

Apr 14, 2024

3 min read


"Inequalities: Are They Always Unjust?"


Inequalities have long been a subject of debate, with questions arising as to whether all inequalities are inherently unjust. This article delves into the different perspectives surrounding this issue, examining both natural inequalities and those shaped by societal structures. Additionally, we explore the historical context of interest rates set by the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Federal Reserve (Fed), shedding light on the divergent approaches taken by these institutions.

I. Natural Inequalities: Challenging the Notion of Injustice

Gorgias and Callicles argue that natural inequalities are not injustices, as they align with the order of nature. According to their views, laws that impede the expression of strength by the strongest individuals protect the interests of the weaker ones, thereby subverting the domination of the strong over the weak.

II. The Justification for Combatting Inequalities

  • 1. The Insufficiency of the "Might Makes Right" Principle

One must question whether it is truly nature expressing itself in these inequalities or if they are instead shaped by our political and social structures. By examining the source of these inequalities, we can challenge the idea that they are purely natural and therefore just.

  • 2. The Need to Address Social Inequalities

Marx's perspective suggests that social inequalities do not stem from differences in merit but rather from societal disparities. This insight emphasizes the importance of actively working to reduce these inequalities, as they are not inherently just.

III. Equity as a Basis for Just Inequality

John Rawls proposes a concept of just inequality, stating that economic and social disparities should benefit the most disadvantaged to be considered fair. This notion of equity challenges the belief that all inequalities are inherently unjust, as it highlights the potential for certain inequalities to serve a greater purpose.

Historical Context of ECB and Fed Interest Rates

The ECB's primary mission is to maintain price inflation at a level close to 2%, while the Fed prioritizes economic growth to maximize employment. However, the global economic crisis caused by the American subprime mortgage crisis prompted the ECB to adjust its policies. It faced accusations of hindering the fragile recovery, leading to a shift in its decision-making process. The ECB now aims to strike a better balance between short-term growth and long-term inflation considerations.

The Fed's monetary policy decisions reveal a significant decrease in interest rates between October 2007 and December 2008, reaching an all-time low of 0%. This low rate persisted from 2009 to late 2015, followed by a gradual increase to 2.25%-2.50% by the end of 2018. However, due to concerns about economic contraction, rates rapidly decreased again. Notably, the ECB did not follow this upward trend, maintaining its interest rates at 0% without signs of robust economic recovery in Europe.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Encourage a nuanced understanding: Recognize that not all inequalities are inherently unjust and that natural inequalities may exist without violating principles of fairness.
  • 2. Address systemic disparities: Work towards reducing social inequalities by addressing the structural factors that contribute to them, rather than attributing them solely to differences in merit.
  • 3. Strive for equitable outcomes: Consider the concept of just inequality, where economic and social disparities benefit the most disadvantaged, ensuring fairness and equity in society.


The notion of inequalities as injustices is a complex topic that requires careful examination. While natural inequalities may not be injustices in themselves, societal disparities and their consequences warrant active efforts to reduce them. By considering the concept of just inequality and striving for equitable outcomes, we can work towards a fairer and more inclusive society.

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