Why not be a desertist?: Three arguments for desert and against luck egalitarianism

Philosophical Studies 176 (9):2271-2288 (2019)

Abstract

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.

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Author Profiles

Huub Brouwer
Tilburg University
Thomas Mulligan
Georgetown University

References found in this work

Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - New York: Basic Books.
What is the Point of Equality.Elizabeth Anderson - 1999 - Ethics 109 (2):287-337.
Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - Philosophy 52 (199):102-105.
Liberalism Without Perfection.Jonathan Quong - 2010 - Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work

What Do Climate Change Winners Owe, and to Whom?Kian Mintz-Woo & Justin Leroux - 2021 - Economics and Philosophy 37 (3):462-483.
From Explanation to Recommendation: Ethical Standards for Algorithmic Recourse.Emily Sullivan & Philippe Verreault-Julien - forthcoming - Proceedings of the 2022 AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society (AIES’22).
Measurement and Desert: Why Grades Cannot Be Deserved.Toby Napoletano - 2021 - Wiley: Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 10 (4):282-292.

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