On fairness and claims
Tomlin, P. (2012) On fairness and claims. Utilitas, 24 (2). pp. 200-213. ISSN 1741-6183
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1017/S0953820812000143
Perhaps the best known theory of fairness is John Broome’s: that fairness is the proportional satisfaction of claims. In this paper, I question whether claims are the appropriate focus for a theory of fairness, at least as Broome understands them in his current theory. If fairness is the proportionate satisfaction of claims, I argue, then the following would be true: fairness could not help determine the correct distribution of claims; fairness could not be used to evaluate the distribution of claims; fairness could not guide us in distributing claims (or unowed goods); we could not have a claim to be treated fairly; and we would not be wronged when treated unfairly. These entailments mean that it is questionable that fairness is concerned with claims in the way Broome suggests. At the very least, the relationship between fairness and claims appears to be more complex than the picture painted by Broome.
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