Economic Incentives and Liberal Equality
Article [Version of Record]
Is part ofÉthique et Économique / Ethics and Economics ; vol. 3, no 1
Publisher(s)Université de Montréal. Centre de recherche en éthique de l'UdeM.
In order to assess to the degree to which the provision of economic incentives can result in justified inequalities, we need to distinguish between compensatory incentive payments and non-compensatory incentive payments. From a liberal egalitarian perspective, economic inequalities traceable to the provision of compensatory incentive payments are generally justifiable. However, economic inequalities created by the provision of non-compensatory incentive payments are more problematic. I argue that in non-ideal circumstances justice may permit and even require the provision of non-compensatory incentives despite the fact that those who receive non-compensatory payments are not entitled to them. In some circumstances, justice may require us to accede to unreasonable demands for incentive payments by hard bargainers. This leads to a kind of paradox: from a systemic point of view, non-compensatory incentive payments can be justified even though those who receive them have no just claim to them.