Taking Responsibility for the Past: Reparation and Historical Injustice
1 Jan 2002
Injustices of the past cast a shadow on the present. They are the root cause of much harm, the source of enmity, and increasingly in recent times, the focus of demands for reparation. In this groundbreaking philosophical investigation, Janna Thompson examines the problems raised by reparative demands and puts forward a theory of reparation for historical injustices. The book argues that the problems posed by historical injustices are best resolved by a reconciliatory view of reparative justice and an approach that explains how people acquire intergenerational responsibilities and entitlements. It ranges in its subject matter from the claims of indigenous people to land stolen from their ancestors to the growing movement for reparations for slavery. The book provides an original and convincing answer to the questions of how citizens can have reparative responsibilities for wrongs committed before they were born, and why descendants of victims may be entitled to compensation for historical injustices such as slavery. It also explains how members of nations can make recompense for injustices of the past without ignoring the inequities of the present.Taking Responsibility for the Past is a significant contribution to philosophical and legal debates about reparative justice, and at the same time an accessible and thought--provoking book for general readers.