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Sir John Stuffgut’s soup and a taste for desert

Oliver, Adam (2023) Sir John Stuffgut’s soup and a taste for desert. Behavioural Public Policy, 7 (2). 417 - 425. ISSN 2398-063X

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Identification Number: 10.1017/bpp.2021.24


A concern that people ought to be given what they deserve, in both positive and negative senses, lies deep within the human psyche. Views on the level of reward or punishment that a person deserves for their actions will differ across persons, places, and time, but, I argue in this article, depend substantively upon some combination of intentions and outcomes. Using these characteristics, I propose a taxonomy of actions, ordered from most to least blameworthy, with, for example, it being suggested that for any particular level of harm an intentional yet unrealized harm is more blameworthy than an unintentional yet realized harm (a similar taxonomy can be developed for the positive domain of praiseworthy actions). The taxonomy is focused upon people's actions toward others, but I finish the article with a discussion of desert in relation to people's intentions toward themselves. Ultimately, I contend that the strength and sustainability of public sector services and welfare systems, not to mention our private relationships, rely upon the recognition that desert underpins our notion of justice.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Author
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2021 15:09
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 03:25

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