Philosophy Programme Seminar

Date Thursday 1 April 2021
Time 4:10pm - 5:30pm
Where University of Waikato - Room J.B.07
Presenter Jonathan Winterbottom
Contact Justine Kingsbury
Contact email
Admission Cost Free

Inherited Duties and Reparations: Reconsidering the Chain-Harm Argument - byJonathan Winterbottom

Using US slavery as an example, I focus on an approach to reparations for historical injustice on which reparations are understood as compensation for wrongful harms associated with the injustice. A simple version of this approach is subject to the nonidentity problem: but for slavery the currently living descendants of slaves would not exist, and so it’s not clear that slavery harms these descendants. Bernard Boxill and George Sher independently proposed a strategy – which I call “the chain-harm argument” – that purports to avoid this nonidentity worry by showing that current descendants are harmed not by the historical injustice itself, but rather by related injustices that take place within their own lives. I highlight two key problems with the chain-harm argument, which I refer to as the brutalization objection and the third-party harm objection. Relying on the idea of inherited duties, I outline a modified version of the chain-harm argument that avoids these problems.