Economic Incentives and Liberal Equality
Series/Report no.Revue Éthique et Économique / Ethics and Economics;Volume 3, Numéro 1
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.