The Nature of Desert Claims: Rethinking What it Means to Get One’s Due

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2022.04.04 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews

Kevin Kinghorn, The Nature of Desert Claims: Rethinking What it Means to Get One’s Due, Cambridge University Press, 2021, 227pp., $99.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781108845328.

Reviewed by Spencer Case, University of Colorado Boulder

Everyday language is replete with talk about who deserves what, but desert in contemporary moral philosophy seems always to be playing second or third fiddle to such concepts as obligation and justice. Perhaps desert itself deserves more attention from philosophers. Kevin Kinghorn thinks that it does. In this book he attempts to give it its due. Kinghorn contends that recent work on desert has been stuck in a false model that overlooks the way that desert attributions publicly draw attention to important truths about their objects.

In Chapter 1, Kinghorn discusses some incidents in sports that highlight the distinction between desert and entitlement. One of these occurred in the final 1,000-meter short-track speed skating at the 2002 Winter Olympics. Of the…

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