What we think people can be said to deserve has far-reaching implications. Desert presents some challenging questions about the institution of punishment (retributive justice) and the structures in society regulating distributions of scarce goods (distributive justice). For the distributive side, questions include: Can people be said to deserve the wealth they earn? Do people deserve the talents that give them advantages within the market? And for the retributive side: What punishments do criminals deserve? What justifies the decision to punish someone who commits a crime?
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