Getting What We Deserve from Our Country
Oxford University Press 2016
The philosopher (and 1972 presidential candidate) John Hospers once wrote, “justice is getting what one deserves. What could be simpler?” As it turns out, this seemingly simple idea is in the opinion of many contemporary political philosophers complicated enough to be implausible. According to many these theorists, the question of what one deserves is no less vexed than the question of what justice requires. Some even hold that the question of what one deserves can be answered only by reference to a conception of justice. Accordingly, it seems as if a defense of Hospers’ simple idea requires a lot of effort.
In Distributive Justice: Getting What We Deserve from Our Country (Oxford University Press, 2016), Fred Feldman provides an original version of desertism, the view according to which justice prevails in a society when all of its members get what they deserve from whatever entity has the job of enacting justice. He forcefully argues that, once it is articulated with the requisite nuance and precision, desertism is an attractive conception of distributive justice.