Ten years ago, a philosophy professor at Princeton wrote a book with a provocative, slightly indecent title. It was a surprise bestseller, reaching number one on the New York Times’s list, and university book shops in America still do a roaring trade in copies of Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit, along with the usual Vonnegut and Sartre. In 2014, something similar happened when Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century sold 1.5 million copies in English, French, German, Mandarin, Urdu, Norwegian, Choctaw and so on.
Not to be outdone, Princeton University Press has enlisted Frankfurt to produce a response to Piketty. On Inequality comprises two journal articles, ‘Equality as a Moral Ideal’ and ‘Equality and Respect’, the former first published nearly three decades ago, plus a 200-word preface that mentions Piketty, an acknowledgements page and some notes.