Giving capitalists their due

Economics and Philosophy 21 (1):65-87 (2005)

Stephen Kershnar
Fredonia State University
In general, capitalists deserve profits and losses for their contribution to the general welfare. Market imperfections and the range of permissible prices (at least within the boundaries of exploitation) prevent the alignment from being a direct one, but the connection generally holds. In the context of the market, this thesis preserves the central place of moral responsibility in moral desert. It also satisfies the fittingness and proportionality conditions of moral desert and provides a backward-looking and pre-institutional ground of it. In addition, the focus on contribution unifies several different types of act-based desert, specifically deserved profits and losses, deserved punishment, and deserved wages. Hence, to the extent that desert-satisfaction is relevant in the selection of an economic system, this result strengthens the case for capitalism.
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DOI 10.1017/s0266267104000392
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