Applied Ethics Forum: Thomas Mulligan
April 23 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Thomas Mulligan (Georgetown University)
‘Human intuition about justice: desertist or luck egalitarian?’
Friday 23 April 2021 • 12:00pm–2:00pm • zoom link
Abstract: There exists a large and growing empirical literature on people’s intuitions about distributive justice. This literature has established that people reject both (1) egalitarian and quasi-egalitarian distributions and (2) libertarian “distributions”. For these normative approaches fail to incorporate choice, effort, merit, responsibility, and related notions in a pretheoretically plausible way. What is not yet clear is which theories of justice do accommodate our intuitions. Desertism and luck egalitarianism are the most plausible candidates. The purpose of this paper is to probe these matters, evaluating how closely desertism and luck egalitarianism cohere with the empirical literature on justice. The result is surprising. In three quite different contexts in which the demands of desertism and of luck egalitarianism come apart, people prefer the desertist’s account of justice to the luck egalitarian’s account. The empirical literature suggests that we are desertists deep down—not luck egalitarians.