Paul Woodruff: The Ajax Dilemma

Paul Woodruff: The Ajax Dilemma

October 2, 2013


How should we distribute rewards and public recognition without damaging the social fabric? How should we honor those whose behavior and achievement is essential to our overall success? Is it fair or right to lavish rewards on the superstar at the expense of the hardworking rank-and-file? How do we distinguish an impartial fairness from what is truly just?

Prof. Paul Woodruff builds his answer to these questions around the ancient conflict between Ajax and Odysseus over the armor of the slain warrior Achilles.

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Paul Woodruff has taught philosophy and classics at the University of Texas at Austin since 1973. His books include Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue (2001. Second Edition, expanded, 2014), First Democracy: The Challenge of an Ancient Idea (2005), The Necessity of Theater (2008) and (most recently) The Ajax Dilemma (2011), which concerns justice and the disparity of rewards. He has also written plays, poetry, short fiction, and opera libretti, as well as translations from the Greek of Plato, Sophocles, and Thucydides.

Prof. Woodruff was born in New Jersey, raised in western Pennsylvania, and educated at Princeton and Oxford Universities. He served as a junior officer in the United States Army with MACV at Chau Doc in the Delta of Vietnam from June 1969 to June 1970.

The New York Times writes: “The timing is excellent for The Ajax Dilemma…this little book makes a worthy contribution to the issue of how to distribute rewards in both government and business. In this age, the story of Ajax is sure to resonate with many.”

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