Inheriting rights to reparation: compensatory justice and the passage of time

Ethical Perspectives 20 (2):245-269 (2013)

Abstract

This article addresses the question of whether present day individuals can inherit rights to compensation from their ancestors. It argues that contemporary writing on compensatory justice in general, and on the inheritability of rights to compensation in particular, has mischaracterized what is at stake in contexts where those responsible for wrongdoing continually refuse to make reparation for their unjust actions, and has subsequently misunderstood how later generations can advance claims rooted in the past mistreatment of their forebears. In particular, a full consideration of the wrongful character of non-rectification needs to take account of the multiplicity of temporal points at which compensation could have been, but was not, paid, each with potentially significant consequences for the victims of injustice. This has relevance for what is owed to those who have been wrongfully denied compensation for wrongs that caused them direct harm, and can be extended to others, such as their direct heirs, who are likewise affected by non-rectification. This opens the door to the endorsement of potentially extensive contemporary claims on behalf of the heirs of victims of wrongdoing.

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Daniel Butt
Oxford University

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Citations of this work

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