People consider desert part of our moral world. It structures how we think about important areas such as love, punishment, and work. This book argues that no one deserves anything. If this is correct, then claims that people deserve general and specific things are false.
At the heart of desert is the notion of moral credit or discredit. People deserve good things (credit) when they are good people or do desirable things. These desirable things might be right, good, or virtuous acts. People deserve bad things (discredit) when they are bad people or do undesirable things. On some theories, people deserve credit in general terms. For instance, they deserve a good life. On other theories, people deserve credit in specific terms. For instance, they deserve specific incomes, jobs, punishments, relationships, or reputations. The author’s argument against desert rests on three claims:
- There is no adequate theory of what desert is.
- Even if there were an adequate theory of what desert is, nothing grounds (justifies) desert.
- Even if there were an adequate theory of what desert is and something were to ground it, there is no plausible account of what people deserve.
Desert Collapses will be of interest to researchers and advanced students working in ethics and political philosophy.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Nature of Desert
Chapter 1: Nature
Part 2: Ground of Desert
Chapter 2: Ground
Chapter 3: Circularity
Chapter 4: Responsibility
Part 3: General Desert
Chapter 5: Geometry
Chapter 6: Mathematics
Part 4: Specific Desert
Chapter 7: Animals
Chapter 8: Contribution
Part 5: Desert Literature
Chapter 9: Desert-Literature Failures
Part 6: Conclusion
Chapter 10: Conclusion
Part 7: Appendices
Appendix 1: Time
Appendix 2: Amount of Responsibility
Stephen Kershnar is a distinguished teaching professor in the philosophy department at the State University of New York at Fredonia and an attorney. He focuses on applied ethics and political philosophy. Kershnar has written roughly one hundred articles and book chapters on such diverse topics as abortion, adult-child sex, affirmative action, capitalism, discrimination, equal opportunity, hell, most valuable player, pleasure, pornography, punishment, reparations for slavery, sexual fantasies, slavery, and torture. He is the author of nine books, including Total Collapse: The Case Against Morality and Responsibility (2018), Does the Pro-Life Worldview Make Sense? Abortion, Hell, and Shooting Abortion-Doctors (Routledge, 2017), and Adult-Child Sex: A Philosophical Defense (2015).