Perpetuation as perpetration: Wrongful benefit and responsibility for historical injustice

Contemporary Political Theory 21 (4):545-566 (2022)
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Do those of us living in the present have an obligation to rectify injustices committed by others in the distant past? This article is an attempt to revisit the problem of historical injustice by bringing together recent work on structural injustice in relation to the problem of wrongful benefit. The problem of benefitting from injustice, I argue, provides firmer grounds of obligation in forward-looking accounts of responsibility for historical injustice specifically. I argue (1) that if the negative effects of historical injustice endure into the present, and (2) if we participate in structures that allow for its reproduction, then (3) our moral responsibility to set matters straight increases to the extent that we derive a benefit from the perpetuation of an unjust _status quo_. Finally, (4) a general moral obligation to make the world less unjust generates a motive for individuals to learn more about their place in a structure that reproduces the negative effects of historical injustice.



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National responsibility and global justice.David Miller - 2008 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 11 (4):383-399.

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