What Do We Deserve?: A Reader on Justice and Desert

Paperback | August 1, 1998

EditorLouis P. Pojman, Owen McLeod

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The concept of desert, which once enjoyed a central place in political and ethical theory, has been relegated to the margins of much of contemporary theory, if not excluded altogether. Recently a renewed interest in the topic has emerged, and several philosophers have argued that the notionmerits a more central place in political and ethical theory. Some of these philosophers contend that justice exists to the extent that people receive exactly what they deserve, while others argue that desert should replace such considerations as rights, need, and equality as the basis fordistributions. Still others argue that morality involves a fitting match between one's moral character and a degree of happiness. All of these positions have encountered opposition from egalitarians, libertarians, and those who are skeptical about the coherence of the concept of desert. The first anthology of its kind, What Do We Deserve? is a balanced collection of readings that brings sharply opposing positions and arguments together and stimulates debate over the meaning and significance of desert in current thought. The book begins with eight classical readings on desert (byPlato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Smith, Kant, Mill, Sidgwick, and Ross), and later turns to contemporary interpretations of the issue. The selections examine the concept itself, analyze its relationship to the ideas of freedom and responsibility, engage in the debate between John Rawls and his critics onthe merits of desert, and, finally, study the wider role and significance of desert in political and ethical theory.

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The concept of desert, which once enjoyed a central place in political and ethical theory, has been relegated to the margins of much of contemporary theory, if not excluded altogether. Recently a renewed interest in the topic has emerged, and several philosophers have argued that the notionmerits a more central place in political and e...

Louis P. Pojman is at United States Military Academy, West Point. Owen McLeod is at Yale University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 9.09 × 6.42 × 0.71 inPublished:August 1, 1998Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195122186

ISBN - 13:9780195122183

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Table of Contents

PrefaceI. Historical Interpretations of DesertIntroduction: Louis P. Pojman1. Plato: Justice as Harmony in the Soul and State2. Aristotle: Justice as Equality According to Merit3. Thomas Hobbes: Merit as Market Value4. Adam Smith: Merit and Demerit5. Immanuel Kant: Moral Worth as Alone Deserving Happiness6. John Stuart Mill: Justice, Desert and Utility7. Henry Sidwick: Justice as Desert8. W.D. Ross: What Things Are Good?II. Contemporary Interpretations of DesertIntroduction: Owen McLeodA. The Concept of Desert9. Joel Feinberg, "Justice and Personal Desert"10. John Kleining, "the Concept of Desert"11. David Miller, "Deserts"12. Julian Lamont, "The Concept of Desert in Distributive Justice"B. Desert and Responsibility13. Galen Strawson, "The Impossibility of Moral Responsibility"14. Harry Frankfurt, "Freedom of the Will and the Concept of Person"15. David Miller, "Deserts"16. Fred Feldman, "Desert" Reconsideration of Some Received Wisdom"C. The Rawlsian Debate17. Herbert Spiegelberg, "The Argument for Equality from Compensatory Desert"18. John Rawls, "A Theory of Justice"19. Robert Nozick, "Anarchy, State and Utopia20. Michael Sandel, "A Critique of Rawls' Theory of the Self and Desert"21. Owen McLeod, "Desert and Institutions"22. Samuel Scheffler, "Responsibility, Reactive Attitudesand Liberalism in Philosophy and Politics"D. The Role of Significance of Desert23. Michael Slote, "Desert, Consent and Justice"24. Norman Daniels, "Merit and Meritocracy"25. Robert Goodin, "Negating Positive Desert Claims"26. Robert Young, "Egalitarianism and the Modest Significance of Desert"27. Fred Feldman, "Adjusting Utility for Justice"28. Own McLeod, "Desert and Wages"29. Louis Pojman, "Does Equality Trump Desert"30. Shelly Kagan, "Equality and Desert"Bibliography

Editorial Reviews

"Very interesting approach to moral philosophy--almost a looking-glass approach to virtue ethics."--Manuel Davenport, Texas AandM University