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The term denotes the idea that how a person ought to be treated depends on a fact about their actions, or their character: a proportioning of happiness to virtue, or unhappiness to vice. Treating persons as they deserve is then the exercise of justice. Problems include the distinction between moral and non-moral desert, and the question of whether the variations of treatment have a fundamental place in ethics, or whether they are to be justified, for instance on consequentialist grounds. See also free will.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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