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The criterion of desert is replaced largely by that of rights and entitlements, the language of the Law Court.As Dworkin puts it, rights are trump cards which beat everything else.Even though philosophers like Rawls and Dworkin would disassociate themselves from some of the aberrations of rights rhetoric, their work has lent support to the proliferation of entitlement talk so that in our time whenever an interest group desires special recognition it claims a right: civil rights, women's rights, prisoners' rights, children's rights, gay rights, the rights of the handicapped, animal rights, the rights of nature, the rights to paid holidays, to medical coverage.
Nagel argues that the morally right act is to move to the city for the sake of the handicapped child, thus promoting equality rather than overall flourishing.
Robert Goodin illustrates the principle of overriding desert for need.
While some Affirmative Action programs are based on compensatory desert, most are to a large extent based on one of these three anti-meritocratic moves - either on the denial of the coherence of merit altogether (replacing the idea with a more therapeutic ideal of enabling everyone to be autonomous), the justified overriding of merit because of considerations of need, compensation, or utility, or the denial that we can really know who deserves what.
The main rival to justice as desert is egalitarianism.
Suppose two men have been in an automobile accident and have the same serious injury, but one is guilty of gross recklessness which caused the accident, while the other is an innocent victim.
Who should get priority treatment in the emergency room?
Our talents and abilities are products of the Natural Lottery (heredity, family, and environment).
We don't deserve our talents, including the talent to be moral or make an effort to learn and work.
It is inegalitarian in that meritocracy is inherently hierarchical, holding that some people are better than others.
It is based on false consciousness, since the view of human nature these philosophers accept tends to be skeptical of deep moral responsibility.