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Merit, Luck, and Historical Recognition: A More Comprehensive Treatment of Justice in Public Administration

Author: NICOLE RISHEL ELIAS and COURTNEY JENSEN
Published in PAQ, Vol. 38 No. 4

John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice has served as an important basis for theorizing merit, deservedness, and fairness, and in turn, continues to influence the intellectual development of many disciplines, including political thought, public administration, and the practical application of democratic governance. Yet, Rawls’ failure to account for luck and historical difference renders his work an incomplete framework for pursing the end of justice in public administration. We argue for a more comprehensive treatment of merit, deservedness, and fairness, one that incorporates luck and takes into account social values rooted in historical preference and identity.

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