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"Does he really deserve that salary?"

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Ifat Glassman
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Allow me to stir the pot!

What if you make a trade with someone, trading money for some item of theirs. At the time of the transaction, you believe you deserve the item based on the amount of money you gave, and you're pretty sure they deserve the money for the item.

The next day you find the same item, same quality, same maker, for much cheaper than you paid. Who deserves what now? Obviously it's a case of caveat emptor, however did you deserve to be treated fairly? Did the guy who sold to you deserve your money?

And on a separate note, how do you go about psychologically divorcing your feelings on whether you deserve your item back and the rational fact that you should have shopped around. Is the blame squarely on you, how do you accept the blame?

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The next day you find the same item, same quality, same maker, for much cheaper than you paid. Who deserves what now? Obviously it's a case of caveat emptor, however did you deserve to be treated fairly? Did the guy who sold to you deserve your money?

You should only buy those items that you think are worth it for the money being asked in your context of knowledge. In such cases, you get a bargain if you think the price is worth it. If the price goes down tomorrow, it's a better bargain, but you had to think it was a bargain yesterday when you bought it. So, yes, the guy who sold it to you deserved your money on yours and his terms at the time you purchased it. In some cases, prices are going down all the time (computers) or there might be a sale coming up, so you have to be aware of the market at the time you purchased it. If you don't think he deserves your money, in the context as you know it, then don't buy it. Otherwise, you did get what you deserved by yours and his standards.

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I definitely agree with Ifat... Where she and I differ is that I think one can assess one's value to others objectively, and if they don't give you something you deserve, then they are committing an injustice.

Oh yeah, that's exactly where we differ. I think objective judgement is impossible and if someone doesn't give you something you deserve then that's not unjust. Hell, what is justice anyway? Isn't it a fabricated concept?

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I now have to agree with Ifatart, as she provided her answer earlier. Which I was only creating a question which provides the outsider, which I said " Who deserves the nail?" I've obviously given my nail to Ifatart, because she has a stronger hammer and it bangs harder. Yet I'm sorry, Thomas as you mentioned earlier you say that when a person' should leave work for not getting what he deserves, does that person forfeit what they deserve?

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Oh yeah, that's exactly where we differ. I think objective judgement is impossible and if someone doesn't give you something you deserve then that's not unjust. Hell, what is justice anyway? Isn't it a fabricated concept?

Justice is one of the Objectivist virtues, and no, it is not a fabricated concept. The Ayn Rand Lexicon online has great passages regarding the virtue of justice.

Justice and deserving something from another are intimately related, and one can objectively assess the justice that one is deserving. One must judge other men just as one must judge the facts of reality, as being either for you or against you by a rational standard. In other words, one ought not to just take what others are granting you without assessing the justice involved -- including whether or not one's boss is treating you justly. One has to know one's own objective worth to other rational men and deal with them accordingly. Since justice is an aspect of rationality, then irrationality is necessarily unjust -- that is, an irrational man will not be able to or will refuse to grant justice to another.

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Justice is one of the Objectivist virtues, and no, it is not a fabricated concept.

I was being sarcastic. How in the lord did it get past you? (Oh no, I am sensing a lecture about atheism coming up. OK: "I was just joking about using god as valid")

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I was being sarcastic.

I actually figured you were being sarcastic, but since you brought it up, I decided to provide references regarding the issue of justice. You've been studying Objectivism too long not to know about justice. There have been those, however, who take to Objectivism as an ideal, but then say it can't be reached. I'm glad you haven't become one of those ;)

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I actually figured you were being sarcastic, but since you brought it up, I decided to provide references regarding the issue of justice. You've been studying Objectivism too long not to know about justice.

Then you should state that. Otherwise you are writing the message that that is what I actually believe, which is what your previous post was implying too. "our point of disagreement is that I think deserving is Objective and you do not" - oh really? show me quotes that support that such is my view.

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Anyway, Jackethan: I'll give a brief answer now and a more thorough one later, since I find that I need to think of the subject more. You said:

What if you make a trade with someone, trading money for some item of theirs. At the time of the transaction, you believe you deserve the item based on the amount of money you gave, and you're pretty sure they deserve the money for the item.

You are using two concepts interchangeably, but they are really separate.

"You're pretty sure they deserve the money for the item" - this makes no sense. A good value for a product and what someone deserves in a trade are two different things.

Someone can offer a great product for a great price - does it mean he deserves the money? No. Even if you have an interest in the product it still doesn't mean he deserves your money. He deserves your money if you both agreed on a transaction and he has already given you the item. So the price of the product has nothing to do with anyone deserving money from anyone.

The next day you find the same item, same quality, same maker, for much cheaper than you paid. Who deserves what now?

You deserve whatever you traded. You bought the product in a fair deal (by which I mean: honest), you deserve the product. And that's all.

There is no such thing as deserving to get a good price on products.

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A good value for a product and what someone deserves in a trade are two different things.

Someone can offer a great product for a great price - does it mean he deserves the money? No. Even if you have an interest in the product it still doesn't mean he deserves your money. He deserves your money if you both agreed on a transaction and he has already given you the item. So the price of the product has nothing to do with anyone deserving money from anyone.

But look at a case of a job interview: Two candidates were interviewed, one qualified for the job and another one who is incompetent, and the incompetent gets chosen for the job. I think it is correct to say in this case that the smart guy did not get what he deserved to get, and the incompetent got something he did not deserve.

How come, since there is no agreement here? There is an implicit agreement. When you go to a job interview, the unwritten, unspoken understanding is that you come there to get your skills tested - you go there to be evaluated for the job for the purpose of getting it if you are the best man for it.

Without this implicit understanding, no competent person in his right mind would go to any job interview: if they knew it was going to be given away because of family connections or some other non-objective consideration.

So there IS actually an implicit agreement, which is being violated when the qualified man is rejected.

Same is true for a couple when one side cheats on the other. They don't have a written contract not to cheat on each other, but by the nature of their relationship it is an implicit agreement.

As for offering a product for sale: There is no implicit understanding that the seller is providing the best value you can find out there. It is the responsibility of the buyer to find a deal that suits him. If he makes a bad decision that's his problem, no injustice is involved.

A bottle of mineral water may cost more in a city in a desert where it is the only store in miles and miles around (more than average price in other places). Are they being unfair? Of course not. They have a right to set whatever price they desire.

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Then you should state that. Otherwise you are writing the message that that is what I actually believe, which is what your previous post was implying too. "our point of disagreement is that I think deserving is Objective and you do not" - oh really? show me quotes that support that such is my view.

That isn't what I said about your position. I didn't say you did not know what an objective meaning of deserving mean, but rather that the way you phrased a few things needed to be looked at more closely. Each person in a deserving trade has to know what he deserves and can judge that objectively -- by reference to the facts at hand. So, it is possible to judge the transaction before it occurs, and not just take whatever it is that the other guy wants to give you, justly or unjustly. You have to know ahead of time what you deserved from other based upon your knowledge of yourself in a context, and then judge the transaction before it is made. Maybe I misunderstood you when your were saying, in effect, that only the boss can decide what you deserve because he is giving you the money. You are giving him something as well, such as labor or knowledge or the ability to do a good job by a standard that you must independently judge. Deserving is not a one-way transaction, it is a two-way transaction, and both sides of the trade must think they've gotten what they deserve out of it based upon the facts. As in any trade, both sides have to access the values involved and act accordingly. In that sense, there is no difference between earning a wage or earning respect or getting what you deserve from someone.

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Ifat, I read the all topic and i find your writing once again insightful and intelligent.

If I understand correctly, after you declared your basic claim (the term" deserve" only has meaning from someone) our job as advocates of objectivism is to find in which contexts and under what kinds of standards we should use the term "deserve".

I'd like to suggest four:

1) Law

We deserve our rights to be respected by the principle of the "Social Contract" (Du contrat social / Jean-Jacques Rousseau). Not necessarily the objectivist social contract (which is the American constitution) if we talk about other western approaches that came out from the same base.

2) Economy

Nothing but contracts to be respected.

3) Culture

By the standard of the american culture "The Best Man Win" with an aspiration for the highest-quality, uncompromised credibility and respect for the state's law. It might be hard to understand for anyone who didn't spend a serious period of time in a mediterranean culture, but none of this is necessarily coordinated with egoism or capitalism.

4) Morality

I deserve to base my relationship with other human beings on my own selfish standard.

I might be wrong, as we already saw semantics tend to be slippery.

Edited by Uriah
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That isn't what I said about your position. I didn't say you did not know what an objective meaning of deserving mean, but rather that the way you phrased a few things needed to be looked at more closely.

You said: "Where she and I differ is that I think one can assess one's value to others objectively, and if they don't give you something you deserve, then they are committing an injustice." That implies that I do not think one can "assess one's value to others objectively" and that I also do not think that "if they don't give you something you deserve, then they are committing an injustice" - it is simple logic.

Nowhere did I say that I think what you said that I think. In fact everything I wrote shows the exact opposite.

Each person in a deserving trade has to know what he deserves and can judge that objectively -- by reference to the facts at hand. So, it is possible to judge the transaction before it occurs, and not just take whatever it is that the other guy wants to give you, justly or unjustly. You have to know ahead of time what you deserved from other based upon your knowledge of yourself in a context, and then judge the transaction before it is made.

This implies that one can deserve wealth outside the context of an agreement (implicit or explicit). Just because one offers a great product for sale for a great price does not entitle one to anyone's money. Similarly, no one "deserves" to get a good deal.

If one makes a bad deal it does not mean one got something one does not deserve. It is the case if the deal involved fraud.

It is possible to judge a trade before it takes place, but only in terms of the value for each side.

Maybe I misunderstood you when your were saying, in effect, that only the boss can decide what you deserve because he is giving you the money.

Where did I say that? Good luck finding a quote.

You are giving him something as well, such as labor or knowledge or the ability to do a good job by a standard that you must independently judge. Deserving is not a one-way transaction, it is a two-way transaction, and both sides of the trade must think they've gotten what they deserve out of it based upon the facts.

Getting a good deal has nothing to do with deserving a good deal.

As in any trade, both sides have to access the values involved and act accordingly. In that sense, there is no difference between earning a wage or earning respect or getting what you deserve from someone.

A workplace environment has the same implicit agreement as in a job interview. Rewarding your employees according to their performance is giving them what they deserve. This does not apply to a case of offering a value. Offering a value does not make one deserve a reward for it from anyone.

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A workplace environment has the same implicit agreement as in a job interview. Rewarding your employees according to their performance is giving them what they deserve. This does not apply to a case of offering a value. Offering a value does not make one deserve a reward for it from anyone.

Not a reward, but a payment. If you say you want $150 for one of your paintings, then you are saying that you deserve $150 for that painting. Likewise, if I go into a job interview and want $12 per hour, I'm saying I deserve $12 per hour based upon my own assessment of my skills I will bring to that workplace. That's what I mean when I say it goes both ways. You can't say, on an open market, that you are only worth what someone in particular is willing to pay you, if they don't meet your wage price you can seek better employment somewhere else. Likewise, if a particular person will not pay you $150 for that painting, then you can say no deal and move on to the next potential customer -- effectively stating that you think you deserve more for your work.

I think you can rationally assess what you are worth to another before the transaction takes place, and you can take a position that you deserve your price. Of course, these things are negotiable, within a range, but I think you would not deserve to be treated disrespectfully given your level of artistic achievement. And if someone were to offer me, say, $7.00 per hour for doing work similar to what I was doing before, I'd have to say I deserve more than that and turn them down.

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Ifat, I read the all topic and I find your writing once again insightful and intelligent.

Thanks.

If I understand correctly, after you declared your basic claim (the term" deserve" only has meaning from someone) our job as advocates of objectivism is to find in which contexts and under what kinds of standards we should use the term "deserve".

Few things:

First, I am rethinking my initial claim that deserving can only be from someone. I found one exception for it, which is emotional reward or punishment in relation to one's character and actions. One can deserve or not deserve guilt.

I don't know, I found this exception, but it's the only one that involves only one and one's self. It is weird, since it is almost like "you don't deserve guilt from... from reality, you simply don't deserve it". There is no second entity.

I think all the examples I gave are correct, but the generalization should be better identified, since I cannot apply it to the above case.

So basically, I am making a list of cases of someone "deserving" something and seeing what they all have in common. I'm going to post the list here, so that others can add to it too. Induction in the making. It's pretty fun, but not easy. Find the general description of the essence of all the cases.

So how about this: I'll make the list, then see if all the cases fall in one of your 4 categories. I think there would still be some that fall outside them. Categories I see are: Emotional reward or punishment, Spiritual reward or punishment via people's conduct to one another, punishment or reward in terms of material goods, and in actions affecting one's physical state (like putting someone in jail). It seems like there is no point making categories because they end up being: everything involved in living.

As for finding the standardS we should use in deciding what one "deserves"... Yes, one standard is correct, and others are not. Using effort as a standard for what one deserves is wrong, for example. The right standard is the value provided to someone, but it still lacks context (like an agreement - since simply providing value does not entitle someone to something).

Anyway, I'll follow up on this later.

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First, I am rethinking my initial claim that deserving can only be from someone. I found one exception for it, which is emotional reward or punishment in relation to one's character and actions. One can deserve or not deserve guilt.

I don't know, I found this exception, but it's the only one that involves only one and one's self. It is weird, since it is almost like "you don't deserve guilt from... from reality, you simply don't deserve it". There is no second entity.

In my opinion this example should be categorized under morality. If a friend of mine would do something which is to be considered immoral I'll expect him to feel guilt about it, emotions are the most honest indicator for one's judgment.

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In my opinion this example should be categorized under morality. If a friend of mine would do something which is to be considered immoral I'll expect him to feel guilt about it, emotions are the most honest indicator for one's judgment.

Why would categorizing it under morality mean that applying "deserve" to describe an emotional reward or punishment is invalid?

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First, I am rethinking my initial claim that deserving can only be from someone. I found one exception for it, which is emotional reward or punishment in relation to one's character and actions. One can deserve or not deserve guilt.

I don't know, I found this exception, but it's the only one that involves only one and one's self. It is weird, since it is almost like "you don't deserve guilt from... from reality, you simply don't deserve it". There is no second entity.

I think all the examples I gave are correct, but the generalization should be better identified, since I cannot apply it to the above case.

I think the distinction you are looking for is that 'deserve' applies to the man-made and cannot apply to the metaphysical. No one deserves anything from nature. Deserve is also normative; if someone is deserving that implies someone else should act in a certain way, but can choose not to.

I disagree that deserve is necessarily social or 'legal' as you put it. One can deserve from oneself and then choose to act on that or not.

'Deserve' is one of the many judgements people make about other people and themselves. It is one of the referents of the concept 'justice'.

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I think the distinction you are looking for is that 'deserve' applies to the man-made and cannot apply to the metaphysical. No one deserves anything from nature. Deserve is also normative; if someone is deserving that implies someone else should act in a certain way, but can choose not to.

I disagree that deserve is necessarily social or 'legal' as you put it. One can deserve from oneself and then choose to act on that or not.

This is helpful. It solves the problem of deserving or not deserving a certain emotional reward or punishment. One may or may not deserve to feel something - which implies one deserves better from oneself (and not just "deserve" from thin air, as it seemed to me at first).

"if someone is deserving that implies someone else should act in a certain way, but can choose not to"

Yes good point. This is what helped me figure out the above about emotional reward/ punishment.

However, I did not say anywhere that I think "deserve" is a legal subject only. In fact I've given many examples when one deserves something from someone else when nothing legal is involved.

Like:

1. In a romantic relationship one deserves not to be cheated on, or in a friendship one deserves certain things from a friend, like help in times of trouble (taking the friend's hierarchy of values under account)

2. One deserves to be treated by others according to one's virtues (taking under account the knowledge of the one acting)

3. The job interview example

4. Deserving to eat part of a fish if you catch it with someone else.

So I gave many examples that are not from the legal realm.

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As I've said, I'm going to make a list of examples of cases of one deserving something from someone, and then see what they all have in common. Examples are the best way to understand any subject.

My starting point is that "deserving" means to earn or be entitled to a punishment or reward from a human being, according to one's actions.

In each case one deserves some reward or punishment from someone, which was earned by one's actions. Let's see how this qualifies case by case:

  1. A criminal; Action: harming someone unjustly. [Action of] Punishment: Being put in jail. From whom: From every man in society, represented by the state.


  2. A good parent; Action: All the actions over the years of taking care of his/her kids. [Action of] Reward: Children's love. From whom: Kids.


  3. A man of honor; Action: The actions according to one's honorable character, like telling the truth, trading honestly, keeping one's word etc'. [Action of] Reward: Respectful behavior from other people. From whom: Other people who know this guy.


  4. A costumer; Action: paying for a product according to an agreement with the seller. [Action of] Reward: 1 pound of potatoes the costumer has paid for. No more, no less. From whom: Seller.


  5. A man with a guilt trip due to an altruistic premise. Action: Judging oneself to be bad for not sacrificing a value. [Action of] reward: correcting one's feelings of guilt. From whom: Oneself.


  6. Two people catching a fish together. Action: catching a fish. [Action of] Reward: allowing the other person to enjoy the value of the fish (as a meal or as payment by selling it). From whom: Each of the two people.


  7. A worker. Action: doing one's job, providing the value that was agreed on by the contract with the employer. [Action of] Reward: Getting paid one's salary. Getting one's performance be recognized. From whom: Employer.


  8. A man best qualified for a job. Action: Going to a job interview, demonstrating his skills. [Action of] Reward: Getting the job. From whom: The interviewer/ interviewers/ company.

Edited by ifatart
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A criminal; Action: harming someone unjustly. [Action of] Punishment: Being put in jail. From whom: From every man in society, represented by the state.

Using 'unjustly' here is not at the right level for a description, it is an evaluation. A better observation would be something along the lines of your statements about a trade, a criminal's actions do not have trade partner.

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I don't agree with you here. If an employee is doing a great , valuable job, yet he is not rewarded or recognized in his workplace he most definitely not getting what he deserves from his boss/ company. He will likely become indignant and leave for another job.

He can get as indignant as he wants, but if digging ditches is only worth $8.50 an hour, he's not going to be making an executive's salary no matter where he goes. If he was really doing something valuable, however, he'd be able to *find* people to pay him for it eventually.

People who complain about this sort of thing are usually complaining that their job is much "harder" than the CEO's job (much more physically demanding, certainly), but the CEO makes ten thousand times as much as they do. This is because you don't get rewarded on the basis of how difficult your work is, but on the basis of how *valuable* that work is to the people who pay you (and other considerations like supply and demand).

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He can get as indignant as he wants, but if digging ditches is only worth $8.50 an hour, he's not going to be making an executive's salary no matter where he goes. If he was really doing something valuable, however, he'd be able to *find* people to pay him for it eventually.

People who complain about this sort of thing are usually complaining that their job is much "harder" than the CEO's job (much more physically demanding, certainly), but the CEO makes ten thousand times as much as they do. This is because you don't get rewarded on the basis of how difficult your work is, but on the basis of how *valuable* that work is to the people who pay you (and other considerations like supply and demand).

I already replies to all of this in my reply to your previous post: These people use effort as a standard to measure what one deserves. It doesn't mean that what one deserves has no meaning outside an agreement or contract.

Grames: I don't see a problem there. All of my examples assume a judgement of what the person deserves, they all assume a judgement of justice for each case.

In any case, you can just replace "unjust" with "initiated the use of force" you'll be fine.

However, there is still a need to go back to the initial incorrect judgments such as deserving healthcare or not deserving a salary and see how they work with the definition I've reached based on the examples (does anyone find a problem with the definition, by the way?):

"To deserve" means to earn or be entitled to a punishment or reward from a human being, according to one's actions.

People who claim that they deserve free healthcare misuse the term because they imply that they can deserve something without any action of earning on their part. They also violate it in another way by saying that they "deserve" something from... no one in particular, they just deserve it for being born. Because to deserve something could only be from a human being.

The one thing left to extract from all the examples is the standard. The one thing I see in common in all the examples is that person A took some action that provided value or destroyed a value for person B and THAT is the link that made person A deserve something from person B. B must recognize the value provided by A and act by it.

For example: A good parent: provided to his kids various things: Their life, well being, happiness, knowledge etc'. This is not part of an agreement, but by providing all these values to his kids he has earned their love and he deserves it.

To establish it I need to see how and if this standard applies to all other examples (anyone wants to take a shot at it? Would be great, because I am having difficulty pin pointing some of the examples I used).

So I'll continue doing this with other examples later (maybe listen to Peikoff's lecture on Justice from "Objectivism through induction").

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Grames: I don't see a problem there. All of my examples assume a judgement of what the person deserves, they all assume a judgement of justice for each case.

In any case, you can just replace "unjust" with "initiated the use of force" you'll be fine.

The issues is keeping the hierarchy relation straight. It is not clear to me that 'deserve' is one of the referents of justice, or a synonym or aspect of justice. My comment was assuming it was a referent but if you can sort this out and make a good case either way that would be progress. Tracking value exchanges is the right approach.

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'Grames'

It is not clear to me that 'deserve' is one of the referents of justice, or a synonym or aspect of justice.

Justice requires judging: man judging and evaluating other men according to the things they do and say.

Ethics sets the criteria for such judging. Thus, Objectivist ethics requires objective judging.

The resulting evaluation leads to a conclusion about a person and a determination of what he is worth - and what he "deserves." That will determine his "just deserts."

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