An Argument for Desert and Against Luck Egalitarianism
None of today’s dominant theories of distributive justice provides a foundational role to desert. We think that the time is right for the concept to return to the debate. But our primary purpose in this paper is to rebut those who claim that desert already has made a comeback in the form of luck egalitarianism. We show that desertism and luck egalitarianism are competing theories by illustrating three differences between them. First, compared to desertism, luck egalitarianism is sometimes too lax: It fails to compensate people for praiseworthy, costly, free choices. Second, luck egalitarianism is sometimes too restrictive—holding that deserving economic agents should not be compensated because their contributions arose from so-called “brute luck”. Third, luck egalitarianism cannot diagnose economic injustice that arises independent of the comparative levels of resources or welfare between citizens. Desert can.