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Mérite et justice


  • Amartya Sen
  • Maxime Parodi


The rewarding of merit and the very concept of merit itself depend on the way we see a good society and the criteria we invoke to assess the successes and failures of societies. The « incentive view » of merit competes with the view of merit based on « action propriety ». The presence of inequality and others drawbacks can lead to some psychological tension, especially since the rewarding of merit is not directly valued under the incentive approach. Even though the incentive-based argument for rewarding merit tends to be, in principle, accepted as the main justification for such a reward system, the main interpretations of the meritocracy are unnecessary and inconsistent with the incentive approach. The common additional features include: (1) confounding merit of actions with that of persons (and possibly of groups of people), (2) overlooking the instrumental nature of the incentive argument and seeing the rewards of merit as intrinsic entitlements or deserts, and (3) ad hoc exclusion of distributional concerns from the objective function in terms of which merit is characterized. JEL Classification: D63, I2, I3.

Suggested Citation

  • Amartya Sen & Maxime Parodi, 2007. "Mérite et justice," Revue de l'OFCE, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 0(3), pages 467-481.
  • Handle: RePEc:cai:reofsp:reof_102_0467

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    More about this item


    justice; merit; meritocracy; social choice;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty


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