AuthorFavor, Christi, Dawn, 1968-
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractIt is common in our everyday social and political life to justify such treatments as punishment, income, prizes, grades, or jobs by appealing to what people deserve. We claim that criminals deserve to go to prison for their wrongdoing, and that the amount of punishment which is appropriate has to do with how much they deserve. And we feel, even as children, the injustice of punishment, which is undeserved. Employees engage in bitter strikes not just because they want more income, but because they strongly believe they deserve more. Yet despite the importance of these claims in our everyday lives, philosophers have given the concept of desert scant attention compared with other moral concepts. Consequently, our understanding of the structure and justification of desert is vague. In this thesis, I develop a conceptual theory of the logical structure of desert claims, arguing that the essence of desert is both evaluative and expressive. I argue that every desert claim implies three claims: a factual description of the agent, an evaluation of the agent's characteristics or behavior, and a claim as to what treatment of the agent would effectively express the evaluation. For example, to say Smith deserves a prison sentence for robbing the bank is to say Smith robbed the bank, robbing the bank is worthy of our strong disapproval, and sending Smith to prison is an effective way to express this disapproval. Understanding desert claims this way allows a richer understanding of the justification for these claims, and of the relationship between desert and other moral concepts, such as entitlement.
Degree ProgramGraduate College