Friday, April 01, 2011

Namit Arora: What do we deserve?

Over at 3 Quarks Daily, he has a great article on several key theories of distributive justice. Here's how he sets up the what he discusses in the rest of his essay:

I often think of the good life I have. By most common measures—say, type of work, income, health, leisure, and social status—I’m doing well. Despite the adage, ‘call no man happy until he is dead’, I wonder no less often: How much of my good life do I really deserve? Why me and not so many others?

The dominant narrative has it that I was a bright student, worked harder than most, and competed fairly to gain admission to the IIT, where my promise was recognized with financial aid from a U.S. university. When I took a chance after graduate school and came to Silicon Valley, I was justly rewarded for my knowledge and labor with a measure of financial security and social status. While many happily accept this narrative, my problem is that I don’t buy it. I believe that much of my socioeconomic station in life was not realized by my own doing, but was accidental or due to my being at the right place at the right time.