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Moral AnimalsIdeals and Constraints in Moral Theory$
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Catherine Wilson

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199267675

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0199267677.001.0001

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The Role of a Merit Principle in Distributive Justice

The Role of a Merit Principle in Distributive Justice

(p.212) 7 The Role of a Merit Principle in Distributive Justice
Moral Animals

Catherine Wilson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

An objection to egalitarianism is that social dominance and variance in well‐being are not arbitrary and unjust insofar as they flow from differences in merit, understood as competence and performance at socially‐valued tasks, between persons and groups. More meritorious persons, on a view implied by F.A. Hayek and developed by David Gauthier, are entitled to have better lives. Chapter 7 seeks to weaken this objection to egalitarianism, by challenging the connection between perceived merit and desert. Statistical equality of outcomes amongst groups of persons with respect to enjoyment of all three tiers of well‐being, is defended as an appropriate test of the moral soundness of a set of social institutions.

Keywords:   desert, egalitarianism, Gauthier, Hayek, merit, well‐being

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