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International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 22, Issue 1, Spring 2008

Stephen Kershnar
Pages 71-88

Desert Tracks Character Alone

In this paper, I argue that character alone grounds desert. I begin by arguing that desert is grounded by a person’s character, action, or both. In the second section, I defend the claim that character grounds desert. My argument rests on intuitions that other things being equal, it would be intrinsically better for virtuous persons to flourish and vicious persons suffer than vice versa. In the third section, I argue that actions do not ground desert. I give three arguments in support of this claim. First, there is little intuitive support for this supposed ground and to the extent that there is support, it is undermined when we consider what causes character and acts to diverge. Second, this type of desert doesn’t fit with a unifying account of the different aspects of intrinsic value. Third, the most plausible version of act-based desert leaves it unclear why acts should ground desert.

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