Smilansky, Arneson, and the asymmetry of desert

Philosophical Studies 162 (3):537-545 (2013)
Desert plays an important role in most contemporary theories of retributive justice, but an unimportant role in most contemporary theories of distributive justice. Saul Smilansky has recently put forward a defense of this asymmetry. In this study, I argue that it fails. Then, drawing on an argument of Richard Arneson’s, I suggest an alternative consequentialist rationale for the asymmetry. But while this shows that desert cannot be expected to play the same role in distributive justice that it can play in retributive justice, it does not fully vindicate the asymmetry, since desert can still play an important role in the former
Keywords Asymmetry  Desert  Distributive justice  Retributive justice
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9780-8
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Larry S. Temkin (1986). Inequality. Philosophy and Public Affairs 15 (2):99-121.

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Carl Knight (2011). Responsibility, Desert, and Justice. In Carl Knight & Zofia Stemplowska (eds.), Responsibility and Distributive Justice. Oxford University Press
Richard J. Arneson (2007). Desert and Equality. In Nils Holtug & Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen (eds.), Egalitarianism: New Essays on the Nature and Value of Equality. Clarendon Press 262--293.
David Alm (2010). Desert and the Control Asymmetry. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 13 (4):361 - 375.

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