Public Affairs Quarterly 18:273 (2004)

Stephen Kershnar
Fredonia State University
In the past decade, three philosophers in particular have recently explored the relation between desert and intrinsic value. Fred Feldman argues that consequentialism need not give much weight – or indeed any weight at all – to the happiness of persons who undeservedly experience pleasure. He defends the claim that the intrinsic value of a state of affairs is determined by the “fit” between the amount of well-being that a person receives and the amount of well-being that the person deserves. Shelly Kagan uses a similar claim to motivate the view that equality is not intrinsically valuable. Thomas Hurka argues that desert is a third-order value, which is a function of the relation between the second-order value of having a virtuous or vicious character and the first-order value of experiencing pleasure or pain. In this paper, we sketch a theory of desert as fittingness and defend a general account of the relation between desert, well-being, and intrinsic value. We then discuss various applications of our “geometry of desert,” including a solution to the problem of the Repugnant Conclusion.
Keywords Desert  Geometry  Fred Feldman  Thomas Hurka  Shelly Kagan
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Comparative Harm, Creation and Death.Neil Feit - 2016 - Utilitas 28 (2):136-163.
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