Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Does Division Multiply Desert?

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle



School/Research organisations


It seems plausible that (i) how much punishment a person deserves cannot be affected by the mere existence or nonexistence of another person. We might have also thought that (ii) how much punishment is deserved cannot increase merely in virtue of personal division. I argue that (i) and (ii) are inconsistent with the popular belief that, other things being equal, when people culpably do very wrong or bad acts, they ought to be punished for this – even if they have repented, are now virtuous, and punishing them would benefit no one. Insofar as we cannot deny (i), we are either forced to abandon the popular belief in desert, or else allow that personal division could, as I put it, "multiply desert." Some may not find the latter, considered by itself, troubling. But I argue that the thesis that division multiplies desert faces a potentially serious problem, which arises in the context of personal fusion. It is accordingly difficult to see how to maintain a particular family of desert views in light of the cases here presented.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-77
JournalPhilosophical Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Spectrum arguments and hypersensitivity

    Pummer, T. G. 25 May 2017 In : Philosophical Studies. 175, 7, p. 1729-1744

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

  2. Lopsided lives

    Pummer, T. G. 9 Nov 2017 Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics. Timmons, M. C. (ed.). Oxford University Press, Vol. 7

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewChapter (peer-reviewed)

  3. The Worseness of Nonexistence

    Pummer, T. G. 2017 Saving Lives from the Badness of Death. Gamlund, E. & Solberg, C. T. (eds.). New York: Oxford University Press

    Research output: ResearchChapter

  4. Adding happy people

    Pummer, T. G. 22 Sep 2016 Philosophers Take on the World. Edmonds, D. (ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press

    Research output: ResearchChapter

  5. Whether and Where to Give

    Pummer, T. G. 22 Aug 2016 In : Philosophy and Public Affairs. 44, 1, p. 77-95

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Related by journal

  1. Review of Heidegger's Confessions

    Wolfe, J. 14 Dec 2017 (Accepted/In press) In : Philosophical Review. 127, 4

    Research output: ResearchBook/Film/Article review

  2. Knowing what things look like

    McGrath, M. Jan 2017 In : Philosophical Review. 126, 1, 41 p.

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

  3. Truth, the liar, and relativism

    Scharp, K. Jul 2013 In : Philosophical Review. 122, 3, p. 427-510 84 p.

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

  4. Affordances and Phenomenal Character in Spatial Perception

    Prosser, S. J. Oct 2011 In : Philosophical Review. 120, 4, p. 475-513

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

ID: 230195868