Benefiting from Injustice and the Common-Source Problem

Publication year: 2017

Duus-Otterström, Göran

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, pp 1-15, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10677-017-9845-7.

Abstract

According to the Beneficiary Pays Principle, innocent beneficiaries of an injustice stand in a special moral relationship with the victims of the same injustice. Critics have argued that it is normatively irrelevant that a beneficiary and a victim are connected in virtue of the same unjust 'source'. The aim of this paper is to defend the Beneficiary Pays Principle against this criticism. Locating the principle against the backdrop of corrective justice, it argues that the principle is correct in saying that innocent beneficiaries of an injustice may have an extra reason to assist the victims of that injustice. This is because it may be necessary to defeat the immoral plan of the perpetrator of the injustice and because it may satisfy weak restitution. The conclusion is that the principle is distinctive from related views, such as that property should be returned to its rightful owner or that tainted benefits should be given up for general use.

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