Understanding Society

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Huub Brouwer MA MSc

foto Huub Brouwer

I am PhD Candidate in Political Philosophy at the Tilburg Center for Logic, Ethics, and Philosophy of Science (TiLPS). My project is supervised by Prof. Dr. Maureen Sie. My primary research interests are in theories of distributive justice (especially desert-based and luck egalitarian ones) and philosophy of taxation. My secondary research interests are in theories of well-being and philosophy of death. 

I have a BA in Liberal Arts and Sciences from University College Utrecht (2011, cum laude), a MA in Business and Economics from the Stockholm School of Economics (2013) and a MSc in Philosophy and Economics from Erasmus University Rotterdam (2015, cum laude). During my first master's, I went on exchange with Sciences Po Paris (2013). During my PhD, I spent a semester at the Philosophy and Law research group at Pompeu Fabra University (2016). 

I am one of the editors of the Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics. I am a co-organizer of the OZSW peer review circle practical philosophy

Research project 

Keywords: desert, luck egalitarianism, philosophy of taxation

Desert has been a central notion in philosophical discussions of distributive justice for centuries. Since the 1970s, however, the concept has largely been absent from such discussions. Philosophers of all stripes have rejected desert - from John Rawls to Robert Nozick. The absence of desert from philosophical discussions of distributive justice is remarkable given that desert plays a central role in people’s pre-theoretical reasoning about justice. An increasing number of philosophers have expressed worries about this gap between theory and intuition. The worry is that if desert is as central to human reasoning about justice as the evidence suggests, then desert-less theories of justice run the risk of not being accepted by the general public.

My project looks into the role desert could plausibly play in a theory of distributive justice, carefully separating the aspects of desert-based theories that are plausible and worth preserving, from those that have been criticized for good reason and should be abandoned. One of the main contributions of my project is that it draws on discussions on desert in contemporary theories of retributive justice, in which desert is a central notion. Discussions on the role of desert in distributive justice and retributive justice are often kept separate, but it seems to me that much can be gained from combining them. The reason is that many of the arguments in favor of and against desert in retributive justice also apply in distributive justice, and vice versa. 

The intended end-result of my project is to develop a pluralist theory of justice in which it is made clear what role desert can plausibility play in distribution. To increase the relevance of this project to political and societal discussions on justice and taxation, I plan to elaborate on how this theory could be implemented through a system of taxation during the last year of my PhD.