The Ajax Dilemma: Justice, Fairness, and Rewards

Paperback | January 28, 2014

byPaul Woodruff

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We live in a world where CEOs give themselves million dollar bonuses even as their companies go bankrupt and ordinary workers are laid off; where athletes make millions while teachers struggle to survive; a world, in short, where rewards are often unfairly meted out. In The Ajax Dilemma, Paul Woodruff examines one of today's most pressing moral issues: how to distribute rewards and public recognition without damaging the social fabric. How should we honor those whose behavior and achievement is essential to our overall success? Is it fair or right to lavishrewards on the superstar at the expense of the hardworking rank-and-file? How do we distinguish an impartial fairness from what is truly just? Woodruff builds his answer to these questions around the ancient conflict between Ajax and Odysseus over the armor of the slain warrior Achilles. King Agamemnon arranges a speech contest to decide the issue. Ajax, the loyal workhorse, loses the contest, and the priceless armor, to Odysseus, the brilliantly deceptive strategist who will lead the Greeks to victory. Deeply insulted, Ajax goes on a rampage and commits suicide, and in his rage wesee the resentment of every loyal worker who has been passed over in favor of those who are more gifted, or whose skills are more highly valued. How should we deal with the "Ajax dilemma"? Woodruff argues that while we can never create a perfect system for distributing just rewards, we can recognizethe essential role that wisdom, compassion, moderation, and respect must play if we are to restore the basic sense of justice on which all communities depend. This short, thoughtful book, written with Woodruff's characteristic elegance, investigates some of the most bitterly divisive issues in American today.

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We live in a world where CEOs give themselves million dollar bonuses even as their companies go bankrupt and ordinary workers are laid off; where athletes make millions while teachers struggle to survive; a world, in short, where rewards are often unfairly meted out. In The Ajax Dilemma, Paul Woodruff examines one of today's most press...

Paul Woodruff teaches philosophy at The University of Texas at Austin, where he has held positions for over twenty years as department chair, honors director, and dean. He served in the United States Army as a junior officer, 1969-71. His many books include Reverence, First Democracy, and The Necessity of Theater.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 7 × 5 × 0.68 inPublished:January 28, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199356882

ISBN - 13:9780199356881

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Table of Contents

Part I Introductory1. Ajax2. What's at Stake: Rewards, Booty, and IncentivesPart II The Ajax StoryPart III Learning from the Ajax Story1. A New Approach to Justice and Compassion2. The Myth3. Caring About Ajax4. The Story Tellers5. The Contest: What Went WrongPart IV Justice as Human Wisdom1. Bad Losers2. Compassion3. Fairness4. The Fairness Trap5. Good Things and their Doubles6. Justice7. Anger and Justice in the Soul8. Honor and Respect9. Wisdom10. LeadershipC. Cale McDowell): Afterword: Ajax and Odysseus: From Battlefield to BoardroomBibliographyEndnotes