Special Issue "Desert: Ground, Object, and Geometry"

A special issue of Philosophies (ISSN 2409-9287).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2021) | Viewed by 5735

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Stephen Kershnar
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Philosophy, State University of New York at Fredonia, Fredonia, NY 14063, USA
Interests: desert; rights

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We often think it is good or right that people get what they deserve. Philosophy has made enormous strides in exploring desert since the late 1980’s with noteworthy work by philosophers such as Richard Arneson, Fred Feldman, Thomas Hurka, Shelly Kagan, David Miller, George Sher, and Peter Vallentyne. This volume explores desert.

The discussion of desert has three different lines of inquiry. First, there is an issue of what desert is. In particular, there is disagreement as to whether desert is a feature of the good or the right. If desert is a feature of the good, there is an issue as to whether it is in itself intrinsically good or whether it is a feature of what makes something intrinsically good, for example, a state of affairs.

Second, there is disagreement as to what grounds desert. Different theories hold that people deserve things on the basis of contribution, effort, praise- and blameworthy acts, sacrifice, and virtue. This intersects with issues of whether a deserving person must be responsible for the basis of his or her desert and, also, whether the basis of his or her desert must precede that which is deserved. 

Third, there is disagreement on what people deserve. Philosophers disagree as to whether they deserve something general—for example, a lifetime well-being level—or something specific—for example, a job, an opportunity, or punishment. General desert raises the issue of the geometry of desert. The geometry of desert addresses the particular relation between a person’s well-being and intrinsic value. The relation is often represented on a geometrical graph and, thus, referred to as the geometry of desert. As the relation can be represented mathematically as well as geometrically, it also involves the mathematics of desert. In this volume, leading desert theorists will address these issues.

Prof. Stephen Kershnar
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • Desert
  • Merit
  • Ground
  • Object
  • Geometry
  • The Good
  • Wrongdoing
  • Virtue
  • Vice

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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Article
Axiological Retributivism and the Desert Neutrality Paradox
Philosophies 2022, 7(4), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies7040080 - 15 Jul 2022
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Abstract
According to axiological retributivism, people can deserve what is bad for them and an outcome in which someone gets what she deserves, even if it is bad for her, can thereby have intrinsic positive value. A question seldom asked is how axiological retributivism [...] Read more.
According to axiological retributivism, people can deserve what is bad for them and an outcome in which someone gets what she deserves, even if it is bad for her, can thereby have intrinsic positive value. A question seldom asked is how axiological retributivism should deal with comparisons of outcomes that differ with respect to the number and identities of deserving agents. Attempting to answer this question exposes a problem for axiological retributivism that parallels a well-known problem in population axiology introduced by John Broome. The problem for axiological retributivism is that it supports the existence of a range of negative wellbeing levels such that if a deserving person comes into existence at any of these levels, the resulting outcome is neither better nor worse with respect to desert. However, the existence of such a range is inconsistent with a set of very plausible axiological claims. I call this the desert neutrality paradox. After introducing the paradox, I consider several possible responses to it. I suggest that one reasonable response, though perhaps not the only one, is to reject axiological retributivism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Desert: Ground, Object, and Geometry)
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Article
How Much Punishment Is Deserved? Two Alternatives to Proportionality
Philosophies 2022, 7(2), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies7020025 - 03 Mar 2022
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Abstract
When it comes to the question of how much the state ought to punish a given offender, the standard understanding of the desert theory for centuries has been that it should give him a penalty proportionate to his offense, that is, an amount [...] Read more.
When it comes to the question of how much the state ought to punish a given offender, the standard understanding of the desert theory for centuries has been that it should give him a penalty proportionate to his offense, that is, an amount of punishment that fits the severity of his crime. In this article, we maintain that a desert theorist is not conceptually or otherwise required to hold a proportionality requirement. We show that there is logical space for at least two other, non-proportionate ways of meting out deserved penalties, and we also argue that they have important advantages relative to the dominant, proportionality approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Desert: Ground, Object, and Geometry)
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Article
The Mathematics of Desert: Merit, Fit, and Well-Being
Philosophies 2022, 7(1), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies7010018 - 09 Feb 2022
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Abstract
Here, we argue for a mathematical equation that captures desert. Our procedure consists of setting out principles that a correct equation must satisfy and then arguing that our set of equations satisfies them. We then consider two objections to the equation. First, an [...] Read more.
Here, we argue for a mathematical equation that captures desert. Our procedure consists of setting out principles that a correct equation must satisfy and then arguing that our set of equations satisfies them. We then consider two objections to the equation. First, an objector might argue that desert and well-being separately contribute to intrinsic goodness, and they do not separately contribute. The concern here is that our equations treat them as separate contributors. Second, our set of desert-equations are unlike equations in science because our equations involve multiple desert-equations with the applicable equation depending on how the variables are filled out. Neither objection succeeds. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Desert: Ground, Object, and Geometry)

Other

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Essay
Deontological Desert
Philosophies 2022, 7(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies7010008 - 21 Jan 2022
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Abstract
Although the nature of moral desert has sometimes been examined in axiological terms—focusing on the thought that it is a good thing if people get what they deserve—deontologists typically think desert is more appropriately treated in terms of duties and obligations. They may, [...] Read more.
Although the nature of moral desert has sometimes been examined in axiological terms—focusing on the thought that it is a good thing if people get what they deserve—deontologists typically think desert is more appropriately treated in terms of duties and obligations. They may, for example, prefer to talk in terms of there being a moral duty to give people what they deserve. This essay distinguishes a number of forms such a duty might take, and examines four of them more closely. (In particular, it looks at positive and negative duties with regard to both comparative and noncomparative desert). Questions about the contents of each of these duties are raised, making clearer just how much work would be involved in spelling out the relevant duties more completely. The essay concludes with a brief discussion of the possible implications of such desert-based duties for population ethics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Desert: Ground, Object, and Geometry)
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