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- The problem is that on this view no one can possibly deserve anything. According to Rawls, no one deserves anything obtained through the use of inborn assets. Now the view that some things are morally arbitrary because they are undeserved implies that there are things that would be deserved and thus not morally arbitrary.
- Consider two cases. Kasey is born into a wealthy family and as a result of that and her slightly above-average intelligence she attends a good college and secures a good job. For Rawls, Kasey doesn’t deserve her earnings because they result from undeserved assets. Society should allow her to keep just those earnings that maximize the position of the worst-off (through incentives, etc.) Now consider Akbar. Akbar is born in a slum of Mumbai, India. His family is very poor, but Akbar, blessed with high intelligence and a remarkable business sense, slowly and through many sacrifices succeeds in improving himself, getting a high school education, and even supporting his family with earnings in the informal economy of the slum. Courageously, he boards a ship bound for New York. Once in the United States, he takes computer science classes at a community college, where he displays an unusual talent for things digital. A couple of years later, Akbar and two friends found an instantly-successful digital company. Akbar is now a rich man. Rawls is committed to saying that Akbar does not deserve any of this. His case is indistinguishable from Kasey’s, because Akbar’s present holdings, like Kasey’s, result from the exercise of undeserved inborn traits, namely intelligence, business sense, and entrepreneurship.
- conclusione: Any theory of desert that prevents us from distinguishing between Kasey and Akbar has to be wrong.