The Geometry of Desert

Paperback | January 15, 2015

byShelly Kagan

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People differ in terms of how morally deserving they are. And it is a good thing if people get what they deserve. Accordingly, it is important to work out an adequate theory of moral desert. But while certain aspects of such a theory have been frequently discussed in the philosophicalliterature, many others have been surprisingly neglected. For example, if it is indeed true that it is morally good for people to get what they deserve, does it always do the same amount of good when someone gets what they deserve? Or does it matter how deserving the person is? If we cannot givesomeone exactly what they deserve, is it better to give too much - or better to give too little? Does being twice as virtuous make you twice as deserving? And how are we to take into account the thought that what you deserve depends in part on how others are doing? The Geometry of Desert explores anumber of these less familiar questions, using graphs to illustrate the various possible answers. The result is a more careful investigation into the nature of moral desert than has ever previously been offered, one that reveals desert to have a hidden complexity that most of us have failed torecognize.

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People differ in terms of how morally deserving they are. And it is a good thing if people get what they deserve. Accordingly, it is important to work out an adequate theory of moral desert. But while certain aspects of such a theory have been frequently discussed in the philosophicalliterature, many others have been surprisingly negle...

Shelly Kagan is the Clark Professor of Philosophy at Yale, where he has taught since 1995. He was an undergraduate at Wesleyan University, and received his PhD in philosophy from Princeton University in 1982. Before coming to Yale, Professor Kagan taught at the University of Pittsburgh and at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:676 pages, 9.21 × 6.1 × 1.69 inPublished:January 15, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190233729

ISBN - 13:9780190233723

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Table of Contents

PrefaceAcknowledgmentsA Note to the Reader1. Moral Desert1.1 A Familiar Thought1.2 Some Familiar Questions1.3 Skepticism1.4 Intrinsic Value1.5 Unfamiliar QuestionsPART I: NONCOMPARATIVE DESERT2. Fault Forfeits First2.1 The Basic View2.2 Pluralism2.3 Extending the Account2.4 Discount Rates and Multipliers3. Desert Graphs3.1 Graphs3.2 Varying Slopes3.3 Rotation3.4 Peaks3.5 Multiple Peaks3.6 Comparing Sides3.7 Bell Motion3.8 The Sym Mountain3.9 Shift4. Skylines4.1 The Occupation of the X Axis4.2 Constant Skylines4.3 The V Shaped Skyline4.4 Varieties of Desert4.5 Taking StockPART II: COMPLICATIONS AND ALTERNATIVES5. Other Shapes5.1 Plateaus5.2 Retributivism and Plateaus5.3 Simple Straight Lines5.4 Bent Lines5.5 Curved Desert5.6 Detailing Curved Desert5.7 Curved Plateaus6. Placing Peaks6.1 The Mapping Function6.2 Curved Mapping Functions6.3 Revisiting the Sym Mountain6.4 Revisiting the V Shaped Skyline6.5 Further Constraints on the Skyline6.6 The Logical Limits of Bell Motion6.7 DisaggregationPART III: COMPARATIVE DESERT7. The Ratio View7.1 The Idea of Comparative Desert7.2 Problems for the Ratio View7.3 Optimism7.4 The Impossibility Defense7.5 Absolute Zero8. Similar Offense8.1 The Y Gap View8.2 Reconsidering the Cases8.3 More on the Y Gap Constraint8.4 Percentages8.5 A Fourth View9. Graphing Comparative Desert9.1 Relative Advantage9.2 Two Problems9.3 Graphing the X Gap View9.4 Motion Along the Y Axis9.5 Graphing the Y Gap View10. Variation10.1 Comparative Bell Motion10.2 Comparative Skylines10.3 Moral Significance Again10.4 Two More Possibilities10.5 One Size Fits All10.6 Sliding Up11. Groups11.1 Two Approaches11.2 Size11.3 Another Look11.4 Adjusting the Graphs11.5 Variable Steepness ReconsideredPART IV: DESERT12. Desert Taken as a Whole12.1 Partial Values12.2 Open Questions12.3 Rough Comparability12.4 Another Series12.5 Other Values13. Reservations13.1 Deontology13.2 Methodology13.3 IdeologyEndnotesReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"The Geometry of Desert is an extraordinary accomplishment. It is the most comprehensive and thoughtful discussion of the topic of desert in the literature." --Larry Temkin, Rutgers University