What is entitlement?

  • Entitlement is the social materialization of owing
  • To be entitled to something is not the same as to be owed that thing,
    but there to be a default presupposition that that thing is owed to us.
    • Consequently, entitlement is not a mental state
      (or at least, not an individual’s mental state;
      but some of us know that it makes sense to talk of collective mental states, so entitlement might be one of those kind of mental states)
      but a social structure or act.
    • What one is entitled to is a sociological fact,
      while what one is owed is a moral (and/or political) fact.
  • To be entitled to something is not the same as to believe that one is owed that thing
    or to expect to get that thing,
    but they are closely related:
    • Entitlement justifies the belief of being owed:
      Knowing that one is entitled to something
      justifies believing one is owed that thing,
      for better (if we are actually owed that thing)
      and for worse (if we are not),
    • since justified beliefs can be false,
      and thus one can be entitled to something one is not owed
      and vice versa.
    • Entitlement to things one is not owed is discriminatory,
      obviously!

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