Doing and Deserving


in Responsibility

Published in print May 1995 | ISBN: 9780198235781
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191679117 | DOI:
Doing and Deserving

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Having construed punishments as tangible tokens of disapprobation, this chapter elucidates rewards as tangible tokens of esteem. It distinguishes desert, which is concerned with what an agent has done, from merit, which is concerned with what he is. It argues against John Rawls' contention that desert ought not to be a basis for distributing good things. Desert is not the only basis, but it is the pre-eminent one, which, in default of good reason to the contrary, we ought to adopt. It is particularly appropriate for distributing the fruits of co-operative endeavour, and where these accrue unevenly, a monetary transfer enables the score to be made even.

Keywords: rewards; esteem; desert; merit; John Rawls; cooperative endeavour

Chapter.  7216 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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