Voluntary Benefits from Wrongdoing

Journal of Applied Philosophy 31 (4):377-391 (2014)
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The principle of wrongful benefits prescribes that beneficiaries from wrongdoing incur duties towards the victims of the wrongdoing. The principle focuses on involuntary beneficiaries, demanding that they disgorge their tainted benefit. However, it overlooks the duties of beneficiaries who are not straightforwardly involuntary. The article addresses this gap in the literature. It explores the duties of ‘voluntary beneficiaries’, who could avoid receiving the tainted benefit; and the duties of ‘welcoming beneficiaries’, who cannot avoid receiving the tainted benefit but welcome it. The article demonstrates that in both cases, the duties of the beneficiary towards the victim of the original wrongdoing are not limited to the disgorgement of the benefit. Rather, voluntary and welcoming beneficiaries are themselves involved in the commission of wrongdoing against the victim of the original wrongdoing, and hence may owe the victim compensation that exceeds the level of their own benefit. This argument has various practical implications, e.g. in specifying the duties of companies who benefit from human rights violations down their supply chain



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