Personal Merit and the Politics of Gratitude

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Most philosophers recognize that sometimes particular individuals have to be grateful to others who have benefited them in a way that provides reasons for treating them in a differential way. In the same way, I argue, there are cases in which society as such benefits from the actions of a person, which gives rise to collective duties of gratitude that must be expressed at the political and socio-economic levels. The political concern about merit should not be merely instrumental, but also moral: a society cannot be just if it disregards its collective duties of gratitude. I criticize Rawls’ famous Natural Lottery Argument showing that it relies on a problematic understanding of the notion of moral responsibility and develop some considerations on the role that gratitude should play when designing both public institutions and policies.
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Archival date: 2018-03-05
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