Distributive Justice

Fred Feldman

Published in print July 2016 | ISBN: 9780198782988
Published online August 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780191826214 | DOI:
Distributive Justice

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This book is a presentation and defense of a novel theory of justice, according to which political economic distributive justice reigns in a state if the government of that state ensures that citizens receive the benefits and burdens they deserve from it. The book starts by giving a more precise characterization of the target of this inquiry—political economic distributive justice. It then proceeds to explicate the concept of desert, evaluate proposed ways of justifying desert claims, formulate a number of desertist theories of justice, and draw out the distinctive features of the version defended here. According to the proposed form of desertism, it is essential to focus on special categories of desert bases and deserts. These are the specifically political economic desert bases and deserts. Justice is explained as the proper distribution of these deserts on these bases. Then this form of desertism is compared to egalitarianism, luck egalitarianism, sufficientism, the difference principle, libertarianism, and prioritarianism, with the aim of showing that desertism yields more attractive results in cases that prove difficult for other theories. Arguments against desertism are explained and evaluated. There is discussion of the distinction between comparative and non-comparative justice. Emphasis is placed on the distinction between theories about the moral rightness of distributions and theories specifically about the justice of distributions. The views of Rawls, Nozick, Parfit, Frankfurt, Feinberg, and others are discussed. A version of the method of reflective equilibrium is explained. The book concludes with admissions concerning puzzles that remain unsolved.

Keywords: justice; desert; egalitarianism; sufficientism; difference principle; libertarianism; prioritarianism; Rawls; Nozick; Parfit

Book.  288 pages. 

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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