“You have an architect and a ditch-digger working together on a construction project. Who gets paid more, and why?” Does a tendency toward abstraction and quantification, a pretense of objectivity, obscure the character, situation and bias from which all economic and political theorems stem? Following the principle that arguments neither arise nor persist in a vacuum, that they live and die by their context and character, we can describe two sorts of response corresponding to two rather timeless worldviews, along with (...) their accompanying “mind-sets”. The degree to which these views indicate differing “kinds” in human nature, beyond which there can be no further reduction to common ground, whether conversely they simply reflect historical and economic circumstance, or to what extent they are both, will be left to the reader. One might discern in the sensibilities described some alignment along traditional epithets of “bourgeois” vs. “working class”, but this is not necessarily so. I will therefore avoid overwrought labels, but admit that such family resemblances speak to a longer historical view and a persistent problematic. (shrink)
Outside of philosophy, the idea that workers deserve to be paid according to their productive contributions is very popular. But political philosophers have given it relatively little attention. In this paper, I argue against the attempt to use this idea about desert and contribution to vindicate significant income inequality. I claim that reward according to contribution fails on its own terms when the following condition holds: the size of each worker's contribution depends on what others only together do. When workers (...) only together make another more productive, that is not reflected in the sum of their own contributions. Thus reward according to contribution recognizes individual accomplishments without recognizing their dependence on collectives, dependence that is, in complex economies, ubiquitous. (shrink)
We live in a market system with much economic inequality. This may not be an essential characteristic of market systems but seems historically inevitable. How we should evaluate it, on the other hand, is contentious. I propose that bleeding heart libertarianism provides the best diagnosis and prescription.
Geschwisterlichkeit wird in der Tradition des politischen Liberalismus häufig als moralischer Wert verstanden, der über das Ideal der Gerechtigkeit hinausgeht. Im Unterschied dazu argumentiert Jochen Bojanowski für ein neues Verständnis: Demnach sind wir im politischen Kontext zueinander geschwisterlich eingestellt, wenn wir einen gesellschaftlichen Kooperationsrahmen befürworten, in dem bloße Glücksunterschiede nicht in distributive Vorteile umgemünzt werden können. Ausgehend von dieser Idee entwickelt Bojanowski eine Theorie der Gerechtigkeit, der zufolge Geschwisterlichkeit einen konstitutiven Teil von Gerechtigkeit darstellt.
In recent decades, economists have developed methods for measuring the country-wide level of inequality of opportunity. The most popular method, called the ex-ante method, uses data on the distribution of outcomes stratified by groups of individuals with the same circumstances, in order to estimate the part of outcome inequality that is due to these circumstances. I argue that these methods are potentially biased, both upwards and downwards, and that the unknown size of this bias could be large. To argue that (...) the methods are biased, I show that they ought to measure causal or counterfactual quantities, while the methods are only capable of identifying correlational information. To argue that the bias is potentially large, I illustrate how the causal complexity of the real world leads to numerous non-causal correlations between circumstances and outcomes and respond to objections claiming that such correlations are nonetheless indicators of unfair disadvantage, that is, inequality of opportunity. (shrink)
In punishment, proportionality is the systematic mathematical relationship between the significance of the wrongdoing and the amount of punishment that may be imposed on the wrongdoer. In this chapter, Kershnar argues that there is no adequate equation for proportionality. The lack of an adequate equation rests on intuitions and the absence of a shared metric. If there is no equation for proportionality, then there is no proportionality. This is because if there is no equation for proportionality, then there is no (...) general justification for proportionality. Purported justifications of punishment that lack proportionality—specifically, consequentialism and consent theory—are implausible. The lack of proportionality, then, is a threat to the notion that some punishment is justified and, more generally, non-consequentialism. (shrink)
"Meritocracy" has historically been understood in two ways. The first is as an approach to governance. On this understanding, we seek to put meritorious (somehow defined) people into public office to the benefit of society. This understanding has its roots in Confucius, its scope is political offices, and its justification is consequentialist. The second understanding of "meritocracy" is as a theory of justice. We distribute in accordance with merit in order to give people the things that they deserve, as justice (...) demands. This understanding has its roots in Aristotle, its scope is social goods broadly, and its justification is deontological. In this article, I discuss the differences--especially the conceptual differences--between these two, prima facie distinct, meritocratic traditions. I also argue that despite their differences Eastern Meritocracy and Western Meritocracy are harmonious. In Section I of the article I introduce the two meritocratic traditions through, in part, a highly abbreviated history of talk about "merit" and "meritocracy" in Chinese and Western philosophy. In Section II, I discuss a number of conceptual issues and partition meritocratic theories in accordance with their scopes and normative justifications. I also discuss two scenarios. In one scenario, Eastern Meritocracy appears to deliver the right result and Western Meritocracy, the wrong result. In the other scenario, vice versa. Finally, in Section III, I argue that Eastern Meritocracy and Western Meritocracy are each special cases of a single, compelling notion of "meritocracy.". (shrink)
The work of prominent analytical Marxist G. A. Cohen provides a vision of socialism which has distributive justice and community at its core. While Cohen's view of distributive justice has been hugely influential, much less has been said about community. This article argues that community plays three distinct roles in Cohen's socialism. One is as an independent value, the second is as a necessary adjacent counterpart to justice, which serves both to restrict and facilitate distributive equality, and the third is (...) as a critique of the liberal contractualist view of humanity. We argue that each of these are distinct and valuable elements in Cohen's thought, each of which must be recognized to understand the range and implications of Cohen's socialism. (shrink)
When hospitals face surges of patients with COVID-19, fair allocation of scarce medical resources remains a challenge. Scarcity has at times encompassed not only hospital and intensive care unit beds—often reflecting staffing shortages—but also therapies and intensive treatments. Safe, highly effective COVID-19 vaccines have been free and widely available since mid-2021, yet many Americans remain unvaccinated by choice. Should their decision to forgo vaccination be considered when allocating scarce resources? Some have suggested it should, while others disagree. We offer a (...) framework for evaluating when it is ethical and briefly discuss its legality in American law. (shrink)
Before, during, and after the global financial crisis of 2008, executive pay practices were widely debated and criticized. Economists, philosophers, as well as the man on the street all seem to have strong feelings towards how much, in what ways, and on what grounds executives are paid. This thesis asks whether it is possible to morally justify current executive pay practices and, if so, on what grounds they are justified. It questions those who find no quarrel with pay practices due (...) to their minimally moralized view of the market and – perhaps more importantly – it asks for a sophisticated critique from those who criticize current pay practices. The discussion on just pay is clearly one of distributive justice. One reason for why some people consider CEO pay practices to be (fairly) unproblematic while others find them objectionable stems from the availability of different understandings of, and principles for, just pay. We tend to associate justice in pay with such things as proper incentivization, being the outcome of a fair procedure, being deserved on the basis of effort or contribution, and/or satisfying the ideal of equality. Parts of this thesis are devoted to these different understandings and what they entail for the moral justification of CEO pay. Another reason for the conflicting views on CEO pay stems from how issues of justice go beyond the confines of economics and applied ethics, extending all the way into the domain of political philosophy. Parts of this thesis explore this connection, in particular how the concept of economic desert relates to the broader concept of moral desert. Lastly, I discuss the criticism that the superrich (including executives) are being paid too much and are in possession of too much wealth. The issue at hand here is how to morally justify the interventions that seem suitable to rectify the situation. (shrink)
This book argues that no one deserves anything. If this is correct, then sentences that claim that people deserve general things (for example, a life that goes well) or specific things (for example, a particular salary) are false. So are sentences that deny these things if we understand them to assert that people can deserve things even if the individual or group in question does not deserve the thing in question. My argument against desert rests on three claims. (1) There (...) is no adequate theory of what desert is. (2) Even if there were an adequate theory of what desert is, nothing grounds (justifies) desert. (3) Even if there were an adequate theory of what desert is and something grounds it, there is no plausible account of what people deserve. The third claim, (3), rests on arguments about general and specific desert. The argument about general desert, (3a), is that there is no satisfactory account of how much well-being people deserve. The argument about specific desert, (3b), is that there is no satisfactory account of individuals deserving specific things such as income, love, and punishment. (shrink)
The proposal on offer is a radical form of egalitarianism. Under it, each citizen receives the same income, regardless of profession or indeed whether he or she works or not. This proposal is bad for two reasons. First, it is inefficient. It would eliminate nearly all incentive to work, thereby shrinking national income and leaving all citizens poorly off (albeit equally poorly off). I illustrate this inefficiency via an indifference curve analysis. Second, the proposal would be regarded as unjust by (...) almost everyone. The empirical work on justice makes this plain. Equal pay for equal work is desirable; equal pay no matter what is something else entirely. It is an idea not likely to find adherents. (shrink)
A recent wave of academic and popular publications say that utopia is within reach: Automation will progress to such an extent and include so many high-skill tasks that much human work will soon become superfluous. The gains from this highly automated economy, authors suggest, could be used to fund a universal basic income (UBI). Today's employees would live off the robots' products and spend their days on intrinsically valuable pursuits. I argue that this prediction is unlikely to come true. Historical (...) precedent speaks against it, but the main problem is that the prediction fundamentally misunderstands how capitalism works—its incentives to increase or decrease production, its principles of income allocation, and the underlying conception of merit. (shrink)
The U.S. FDA has issued emergency use authorizations for monoclonal antibodies for non-hospitalized patients with mild or moderate COVID-19 disease and for individuals exposed to COVID-19 as post-exposure prophylaxis. One EUA for an oral antiviral drug, molnupiravir, has also been recommended by FDA’s Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee, and others appear likely in the near future. Due to increased demand because of the Delta variant, the federal government resumed control over the supply and asked states to ration doses. As future variants (...) with increased infectivity and/or severity emerge, further rationing may be required. We identify relevant ethical principles and priority groups for access to therapies based on an integrated approach to population health and medical factors. Using priority categories to allocate scarce therapies effectively operationalizes important ethical values. This strategy is preferable to the current approach of categorical rules based on vaccination, immunocompromise status, or older age, or the ad hoc consideration of clinical risk factors. (shrink)
Income inequality in democratic societies with market economies is sizable and growing. One reason for this growth can be traced to unequal forms of compensation that employers pay workers. Democratic societies have tackled this problem by enforcing a wage standard that all workers are paid regardless of education, skills, or contribution. This raises a novel question: Should there be equal pay for all workers? To answer it, we need to investigate some factors that are relevant to the unequal conditions of (...) power and authority in which wage offers are made. By clarifying these, we can determine whether wage inequality is morally permissible. If not, then a case might be made to pay all workers the same regardless of education, skills, or contribution. Even if it is permissible, another question worth considering is whether there are limits to how much inequality is acceptable. The argument here proceeds along the following lines. First, I summarize the economic and non-economic factors that determine the value of wages in labor markets. Second, I examine a particular problem that concerns whether the conditions of wage labor are coercive because they restrict alternatives or otherwise include threats to the welfare of workers. If there is coercion, we have good reasons to establish a standard that improve these conditions. Finally, I claim that establishing this standard requires increasing the value of low-wage work. Doing so will not only expand alternatives that are available to these workers, it will also diminish the potential threat to their welfare. (shrink)
According to luck egalitarianism, it is unjust if some are worse off than others through no fault or choice of their own. The most common criticism of luck egalitarianism is the ‘harshness objection’, which states that luck egalitarianism allows for too harsh consequences, as it fails to provide justification for why those responsible for their bad fate can be entitled to society's assistance. It has largely gone unnoticed that the harshness objection is open to a number of very different interpretations. (...) We present four different interpretations of the harshness objection in which the problem pertains to counterintuitive implications, badness of outcome, disproportionality, or inconsistency, respectively. We analyse and discuss appropriate luck egalitarian replies. Disentangling these different versions clarifies what is at the heart of this dispute and reveals the point of the harshness objection. We conclude that only the inconsistency version involves a durable problem for luck egalitarianism. (shrink)
We live in a market system and witness much economic inequality. Although such inequality may not be an essential characteristic of market systems, it seems historically inevitable. How we should evaluate this inequality, on the other hand, is contentious. I propose that bleeding heart libertarians provide the best diagnosis and prescription.
The idea of using responsibility in the allocation of healthcare resources has been criticized for, among other things, too readily abandoning people who are responsible for being very badly off. One response to this problem is that while responsibility can play a role in resource allocation, it cannot do so if it will leave those who are responsible below a “sufficiency” threshold. This paper considers first whether a view can be both distinctively sufficientarian and allow responsibility to play a role (...) even for those who will be left with very poor health. It then draws several further distinctions that may affect the application of responsibility at this level. We conclude that a more plausible version of the sufficientarian view is to allow a role for responsibility where failure to do so will leave someone else who is not responsible below the sufficiency threshold. However, we suggest that individuals must exhibit “sufficient responsibility” in order for this to apply, involving both a sufficient level of control and an avoidable failure to respond adequately to reasons for action. (shrink)
In this Commentary, I propose an ethical framework for ethical discussions around the allocation of scarce resources in COVID-19 response. The framework incorporates four principles: beneficence (benefiting people by saving lives or years of life), equality, remedying disadvantage, and recognizing past conduct. I then discuss how the framework interacts with ethical constraints against using people as a mere means and against causing death. The commentary closes by criticizing the equation of deontological ethics with random or first-come, first-served allocation and of (...) allocation that aims to save more lives or years of life with utilitarianism.. (shrink)
This article seeks to cause trouble for a brand of consequentialism known as ‘desertarianism’. In somewhat different ways, views of this kind evaluate outcomes more favourably, other things equal, the better the fit between the welfare different people enjoy and the welfare they each deserve. These views imply that we can improve outcomes by redistributing welfare to fit desert, which seems plausible enough. Unfortunately, they also imply that we can improve outcomes by redistributing desert to fit welfare: in other words, (...) by making happy people more deserving, at the cost of making unhappy people less deserving. Extant versions of desertarianism predict that such ‘deservingness transfers’ are improvements and that we ought to carry them out. Even worse, they will sometimes rank deservingness transfers higher than simply benefitting deserving people who are poorly off. (shrink)
Many philosophers believe that luck egalitarianism captures “desert-like” intuitions about justice. Some even think that luck egalitariansm distributes goods in accordance with desert. In this paper, we argue that this is wrong. Desertism conflicts with luck egalitarianism in three important contexts, and, in these contexts, desertism renders the proper moral judgment. First, compared to desertism, luck egalitarianism is sometimes too stingy: it fails to justly compensate people for their socially valuable contributions—when those contributions arose from “option luck”. Second, luck egalitarianism (...) is sometimes too restrictive: it fails to justly compensate people who make a social contribution when that contribution arose from “brute luck”. Third, luck egalitarianism is too limited in scope: it cannot diagnose economic injustice arising independently of comparative levels of justice. The lesson of this paper is that luck egalitarians should consider supplementing their theory with desert considerations. Or, even better, consider desertism as a superior alternative to their theory. (shrink)
Some healthcare systems are said to be grounded in solidarity because healthcare is funded as a form of mutual support. This article argues that health care systems that are grounded in solidarity have the right to penalise some users who are responsible for their poor health. This derives from the fact that solidary systems involve both rights and obligations and, in some cases, those who avoidably incur health burdens violate obligations of solidarity. Penalties warranted include direct patient contribution to costs, (...) and lower priority treatment, but not typically full exclusion from the healthcare system. We also note two important restrictions on this argument. First, failures of solidary obligations can only be assumed under conditions that are conducive to sufficiently autonomous choice, which occur when patients are given ‘Golden Opportunities’ to improve their health. Second, because poor health does not occur in a social vacuum, an insistence on solidarity as part of healthcare is legitimate only if all members of society are held to similar standards of solidarity. We cannot insist upon, and penalise failures of, solidarity only for those who are unwell, and who cannot afford to evade the terms of public health. (shrink)
This book develops a novel approach to distributive justice by building a theory based on a concept of desert. As a work of applied political theory, it presents a simple but powerful theoretical argument and a detailed proposal to eliminate unmerited inequality, poverty, and economic immobility, speaking to the underlying moral principles of both progressives who already support egalitarian measures and also conservatives who have previously rejected egalitarianism on the grounds of individual freedom, personal responsibility, hard work, or economic efficiency. (...) By using an agnostic, flexible, data-driven approach to isolate luck and ultimately measure desert, this proposal makes equal opportunity initiatives both more accurate and effective as it adapts to a changing economy. It grants to each individual the freedom to genuinely choose their place in the distribution. It provides two policy variations that are perfectly economically efficient, and two others that are conditionally so. It straightforwardly aligns outcomes with widely shared, fundamental moral intuitions. Lastly, it demonstrates much of the above by modeling four policy variations using 40 years of survey data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. (shrink)
This essay articulates a kind of conservatism that it argues is the most fundamental and important kind of conservatism, viz. existential conservatism, which involves an affirmative and appreciative stance towards the given world. While this form of conservatism can be connected to political conservatism, as seen with Roger Scruton, it need not be, as seen with G. A. Cohen. It is argued that existential conservatism should be embraced whether or not one embraces political conservatism, though it is also shown that (...) existential conservatism imposes constraints on our political thinking. In particular, it is argued that Cohen's ‘luck egalitarianism’ stands at odds with his existential conservatism and that one should be a sufficientarian rather than an egalitarian with regard to economic justice. (shrink)
The theories of Locke, Hume and Kant dominate contemporary philosophical discourse on property rights. This is particularly true of applied ethics, where they are used to settle issues from biotech patents to managerial obligations. Within these theories, however, the usual criticisms of private property aren’t even as much as intelligible. Locke, Hume and Kant, I argue, develop claims about property on a model economy that I call “Frontier Town.” They and contemporary authors then apply these claims to capitalist economies. There (...) are two problems with this application: First, we’ll be considering the wrong kind of property: The only property in Frontier Town are means of life. Critics, however, object to property in concentrated capital because they associate only this kind of property with economic coercion and political power. Second, the two economies differ in central features, so that very different claims about empirical consequences and hence about fairness and merit will be plausible for each. This second problem, I argue, is a consequence of the first. I conclude that Frontier Town theories are more likely to distort than to illuminate property issues in capitalist economies. (shrink)
Spanish Abstract: A partir de un análisis desde la historia del derecho, este artículo de investigación busca demostrar la existencia de un significado de justicia social en el discurso jurídico transnacional actual que se resume en la garantía de estos tres elementos: Estado Social de Derecho, dignidad humana e igualdad de oportunidades. Con esto, se pretende superar el simple estudio de teorías de filósofos de moda como John Rawls a la hora de abordar el problema de cómo entender y materializar (...) la justicia social, particularmente, en el plano constitucional. Finalmente, con la ayuda de algunos breves estudios de caso, se espera proveer un marco mínimo útil para entender cómo la justicia social puede lograrse a través del derecho. -/- English Abstract: Based on an analysis from legal history, this paper seeks to prove the existence of a meaning of social justice in the current transnational legal discourse that can be synthetized in the warranty of these three elements: Social Rule of Law, human dignity, and equal opportunities. Thus, it aims to overcome the mere study of theories of justice drawn up by trendy philosophers like John Ralws when addressing the problem on how to understand and achieve social justice, specially, in constitutional law. Finally, with the help of some brief case studies, the author hopes to provide a minimum framework useful to understand how social justice can be realized through law. (shrink)
This chapter discusses how justice applies to public health. It begins by outlining three different metrics employed in discussions of justice: resources, capabilities, and welfare. It then discusses different accounts of justice in distribution, reviewing utilitarianism, egalitarianism, prioritarianism, and sufficientarianism, as well as desert-based theories, and applies these distributive approaches to public health examples. Next, it examines the interplay between distributive justice and individual rights, such as religious rights, property rights, and rights against discrimination, by discussing examples such as mandatory (...) treatment and screening. The chapter also examines the nexus between public health and debates concerning whose interests matter to justice (the “scope of justice”), including global justice, intergenerational justice, and environmental justice, as well as debates concerning whether justice applies to individual choices or only to institutional structures (the “site of justice”). The chapter closes with a discussion of strategies, including deliberative and aggregative democracy, for adjudicating disagreements about justice. (shrink)
Recognising that offers of payment to research participants can serve various purposes—reimbursement, compensation and incentive—helps uncover differences between participants, which can justify differential payment of participants within the same study. Participants with different study-related expenses will need different amounts of reimbursement to be restored to their preparticipation financial baseline. Differential compensation can be acceptable when some research participants commit more time or assume greater burdens than others, or if inter-site differences affect the value of compensation. Finally, it may be permissible (...) to offer differential incentive payments if necessary to advance the goals of a study. We encourage investigators and Institutional Review Boards to think about whether to offer payment, in what amounts and for what purpose, and also to consider whether differential payment can help promote the scientific and ethical goals of clinical research. (shrink)
Recognizing that offers of payment to research participants can serve various purposes—reimbursement, compensation, and incentive—helps uncover differences between participants that can justify differential payment of participants within the same study. Participants with different study-related expenses will need different amounts of reimbursement to be restored to their pre-participation financial baseline. Differential compensation can be acceptable when some research participants commit more time or assume greater burdens than others, or if inter-site differences affect the value of compensation. Finally, it may be permissible (...) to offer differential incentive payments if necessary to advance a study’s goals. We encourage investigators and Institutional Review Boards to think not only about whether to offer payment, in what amounts, and for what purpose, but also to consider whether differential payment can help promote the scientific and ethical goals of clinical research. (shrink)
This paper examines the justice of unconditional basic income (UBI) through the lens of the Hegel-inspired recognition-theory of justice. As explained in the first part of the paper, this theory takes everyday social roles to be the primary subject-matter of the theory of justice, and it takes justice in these roles to be a matter of the kind of freedom that is available through their performance, namely ‘social’ freedom. The paper then identifies the key criteria of social freedom. The extent (...) to which the introduction of an UBI would meet these criteria is then examined, with a focus on the social role that stands to be most affected by an UBI, namely that of the worker-earner. It is argued that while an UBI is likely to be only partially effective as an instrument of specifically social freedom, its main justification lies not here, but in securing a basis for the subjective freedom that social freedom presupposes. (shrink)
When philosophers, social scientists, and politicians seek to determine the justice of institutional arrangements, their discussions have often taken the form of questioning whether and under what circumstances the redistribution of wealth or other valuable goods is justified. This essay examines the different ways in which redistribution can be understood, the diverse political contexts in which it has been employed, and whether or not it is a useful concept for exploring questions of distributive justice.
Serena Olsaretti argues that desert cannot serve as a plausible principle of stakes for luck egalitarianism. In this discussion note, we defend the claim that she is too pessimistic about this by introducing a simple, but plausible, desert-based account of stakes that is immune to her argument.
Joseph Heath argues that we should reject the idea of a ‘just wage’ because market prices are supposed to signal scarcities and thereby to promote overall efficiency, rather than reward contributions. This argument overlooks the degree to which markets are institutionally, socially, and culturally embedded. Their outcomes are hardly ever ‘pure’ market outcomes, but the result of complex interactions of economic and other factors, including various forms of power. Instead of rejecting moral intuitions about wage justice as misguided, we can (...) often understand them as pointing towards questions about the embeddedness of markets, or lack thereof. At least in some cases, changes in the framework of markets can both increase efficiency and get us closer to conventional notions of fair wages, e.g. when gender discrimination is reduced. Thus, while an abstract notion of a ‘just wage’ remains problematic, we can and should recognize that some wages are unjust. (shrink)
I defend a solution to the puzzle of petitionary prayer based on some ideas of Aquinas, Gregory the Great, and contemporary desert theorists. I then address a series of objections. Along the way broader issues about the nature of desert, what is required for an action to have a point, and what is required for a puzzle to have a solution are discussed.
Justice requires giving people what they deserve. Or so many philosophers – and according to many of those philosophers, everyone else – thought for centuries. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, however, perhaps under the influence of Rawls’s (1971) desert-less theory, desert was largely cast out of discussions of distributive justice. Now it is making a comeback. In this chapter I consider recent research on the concept of desert, arguments for its requital, and connections between desert and other distributive ideals. I (...) suggest that desert-sensitive theories of distributive justice, though they face obstacles, have a promising future. (shrink)
Rather than answering the broad question, ‘What is a just income?’, in this essay I consider one component of income—economic rent—under one understanding of justice—as giving people what they deserve. As it turns out, the answer to this more focused question is ‘no’. People do not deserve their economic rents, and there is no bar of justice to their confiscation. After briefly covering the concept of desert and explaining what economic rents are, I analyze six types of rent and show (...) that each is unjustified from the point of view of desert. I conclude by drawing some political and economic lessons from the preceding analysis, and by describing how these considerations can create a more just and efficient economy. (shrink)
Like American politics, the academic debate over justice is polarized, with almost all theories of justice falling within one of two traditions: egalitarianism and libertarianism. This book provides an alternative to the partisan standoff by focusing not on equality or liberty, but on the idea that we should give people the things that they deserve. Mulligan argues that a just society is a meritocracy, in which equal opportunity prevails and social goods are distributed strictly on the basis of merit. That (...) gives citizens their just deserts. In addition to its novel conceptual approach, meritocracy is distinctive from existing work in two ways. First, it is grounded in research on how people actually think about justice. Empirical research reveals that people don't think that social goods should be distributed equally. Nor do they dismiss the idea of social justice. Across ideological and cultural lines, people want rewards to reflect merit. Second, the book discusses hot-button political issues and makes concrete policy recommendations. These issues include anti-meritocratic bias against women and racial minorities and the United States’ widening economic inequality. Justice and the Meritocratic State offers a new theory of justice and provides solutions to our most vexing social and economic problems. It will be of keen interest to philosophers, economists, and political theorists. (shrink)
English Abstract: Through the presentation of the history of social justice in global constitutional discourse, this article aims to demonstrate that, although in Colombia there is not a constitutionalized purpose or principle of social justice, as in other countries, the modern notion of distributive justice, also called social justice today, is implicit in the Constitution of 1991 because it enshrined as mandatory rules the three main elements of its meaning at the time of its promulgation: the principle of social rule (...) of law, the principle of human dignity and the right to a material equality. Thus, in Colombia social justice must not be understood in the Aristotelian sense of distributive justice but in accordance with these three elements, and can only be achieved if they are fulfilled. -/- Spanish Abstract: Mediante la presentación de la historia de la justicia social en el discurso constitucional global, este artículo pretende demostrar que, a pesar de no existir en Colombia, como en otros países, un valor o principio constitucional de justicia social, la noción moderna de justicia distributiva, también llamada hoy justicia social, se encuentra implícita en la Constitución de 1991 porque esta consagró como normas obligatorias los tres elementos principales de su significado en el tiempo en el que fue promulgada: el principio de Estado Social de Derecho, el principio de dignidad humana y el derecho a una igualdad material. Así pues, la justicia social debe entenderse en Colombia a partir de esos tres elementos, no según el sentido aristotélico de justicia distributiva, y sólo puede ser alcanzada si ellos se cumplen. (shrink)
Technological and societal changes have made downward social and economic mobility a pressing issue in real-world politics. This article argues that a Rawlsian society would not provide any special protection against downward mobility, and would act rightly in declining to provide such protection. Special treatment for the downwardly mobile can be grounded neither in Rawls’s core principles—the basic liberties, fair equality of opportunity, and the difference principle—nor in other aspects of Rawls’s theory. Instead, a Rawlsian society is willing to sacrifice (...) particular individuals’ ambitions and plans for the achievement of justice, and offers those who lose out from justified change no special solicitude over and above the general solicitude extended to all. Rather than guaranteeing the maintenance of any particular individual or group’s economic position, it provides all of its members—the upwardly mobile, the downwardly mobile, and the immobile—a form of security that is at once more generous and more limited: that they will receive the liberties, opportunities, and resources promised by the principles of justice. (shrink)
Gordon Barnes accuses Robert Nozick and Eric Mack of neglecting, in two ways, the practical, empirical questions relevant to justice in the real world.1 He thinks these omissions show that the argument behind the Wilt Chamberlain example—which Nozick famously made in his seminal Anarchy, State, and Utopia—fails. As a result, he suggests that libertarians should concede that this argument fails. In this article, we show that Barnes’s key arguments hinge on misunderstandings of, or failures to notice, key aspects of the (...) entitlement theory that undergirds Nozick’s and Mack’s work. Once the theory is properly understood, Barnes’s challenges fail to undermine the Chamberlain example, in particular, and the entitlement theory, in general. (shrink)
This paper reviews the recent literature on exploitation. It distinguishes between three main species of exploitation theory: teleology-based accounts, respect-based accounts, and freedom-based accounts. It then addresses the implications of each.
The late G.A. Cohen is routinely considered a founding father of luck egalitarianism, a prominent responsibility-sensitive theory of distributive justice. David Miller argues that Cohen’s considered beliefs on distributive justice are not best understood as luck egalitarian. While the relationship between distributive justice and personal responsibility plays an important part in Cohen’s work, Miller maintains that it should be considered an isolated theme confined to Cohen’s exchange with Dworkin. We should not understand the view Cohen defends in this exchange as (...) Cohen’s considered view. Accepting this thesis would change both our understanding of Cohen’s political philosophy and many recent luck egalitarian contributions. Miller’s argument offers an opportunity to reassess Cohen’s writings as a whole. Ultimately, however, the textual evidence against Miller’s argument is overwhelming. Cohen clearly considers the exchange with Dworkin to be about egalitarianism as such rather than about the best responsibility-sensitive version of egalitarianism. Furthermore, Cohen often offers luck egalitarian formulations of his own view outside of the exchange with Dworkin and uses luck egalitarianism as an independent yardstick for evaluating principles and distributions. (shrink)
The exposure of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to risks in the context of epidemics is significant. While traditional medical ethics offers the thought that these dangers may limit the extent to which a duty to care is applicable in such situations, it has less to say about what we might owe to medical professionals who are disadvantaged in these contexts. Luck egalitarianism, a responsibility-sensitive theory of distributive justice, appears to fare particularly badly in that regard. If we want (...) to maintain that medical professionals are responsible for their decisions to help, cure and care for the vulnerable, luck egalitarianism seems to imply that their claim of justice to medical attention in case of infection is weak or non-existent. The article demonstrates how a recent interpretation of luck egalitarianism offers a solution to this problem. Redefining luck egalitarianism as concerned with responsibility for creating disadvantages, rather than for incurring disadvantage as such, makes it possible to maintain that medical professionals are responsible for their choices and that those infected because of their choice to help fight epidemics have a full claim of justice to medical attention. (shrink)
Much of the recent discussion in progressive circles [e.g., Stiglitz; Galbraith; Piketty] has focused the obscene mal-distribution of wealth and income as if that was "the" problem in our economic system. And the proposed redistributive reforms have all stuck to that framing of the question. To put the question in historical perspective, one might note that there was a similar, if not more extreme, mal-distribution of wealth, income, and political power in the Antebellum system of slavery. Yet, it should be (...) obvious to modern eyes that redistributions in favor of the slaves, while leaving the institution of owning workers intact, would not address the root of the problem. The system of slavery was eventually abolished in favor of the system we have today which differs in two important respects: the workers are only rented, hired, or employed ; and the rental relationship between employer and employee is voluntary. Today, the root of the problem is the whole institution for the voluntary renting of human beings, the employment system itself, not the terms of the contract or the accumulated consequences in the form of the mal-distribution of income and wealth. (shrink)
Most philosophers recognize that sometimes particular individuals have to be grateful to others who have benefited them in a way that provides reasons for treating them in a differential way. In the same way, I argue, there are cases in which society as such benefits from the actions of a person, which gives rise to collective duties of gratitude that must be expressed at the political and socio-economic levels. The political concern about merit should not be merely instrumental, but also (...) moral: a society cannot be just if it disregards its collective duties of gratitude. I criticize Rawls’ famous Natural Lottery Argument showing that it relies on a problematic understanding of the notion of moral responsibility and develop some considerations on the role that gratitude should play when designing both public institutions and policies. (shrink)