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Boundaries and AllegiancesProblems of Justice and Responsibility in Liberal Thought$
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Samuel Scheffler

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199257676

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199257671.001.0001

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Justice and Desert in Liberal Theory *

Justice and Desert in Liberal Theory *

(p.173) 10 Justice and Desert in Liberal Theory *
Boundaries and Allegiances

Samuel Scheffler (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Scheffler identifies and interprets the core ideas in John Rawls's discussion of desert in A Theory of Justice. The conjunction of these ideas, which Scheffler terms the ‘Liberal Theory’ of desert, denies that the principles of distributive justice make reference to a ‘prejusticial’ notion of desert but allows a place for prejusticial desert in our thinking about retributive justice and the criminal law. Scheffler investigates this asymmetry between distributive and retributive justice, noting that desert is an individualistic notion that may not fit into a holistic theory of distributive justice. But retributive justice, concerned with the imposition of punishment on particular human beings, can perhaps accommodate such an individualistic notion.

Keywords:   criminal law, desert, distributive justice, holism, individualism, punishment, John Rawls

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