Occupational Preferences, Effort, and Desert

Eric Rakowski

in Equal Justice

Published in print July 1993 | ISBN: 9780198240792
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680274 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

Occupational Preferences, Effort, and Desert

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A person's occupational performance reflects not only his preferences for one type of work over another, but also the effort he puts in and also his natural as well as acquired traits and aptitudes. This chapter considers the extent to which justice requires correction for inequalities. Preferences for different kinds of labor are, from the standpoint of justice, indistinguishable from preferences for different goods when unowned resources are divided, or from preferences for a greater or lesser degree of risk in one's habits, leisure activities, or business ventures. A theory of justice that treats people as equal, autonomous decision makers must, in general, take them as responsible for their tastes and predilections. Although it may prove difficult to disentangle people's preferences for work over leisure and their decisions to work longer or harder from the effects of natural endowments and other factors over which they lack substantial control, the distinction nevertheless seems vital and defensible. In this connection, John Rawls's theory of justice has been the focus of discussion.

Keywords: occupational preference; effort; leisure; John Rawls; theory of justice; labor

Chapter.  6636 words. 

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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