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Freedom from Past Injustices

A Critical Evaluation of Claims for Inter-Generational Reparations

Nahshon Perez

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Should contemporary citizens provide material redress to right past wrongs?

There is a widespread belief that contemporary citizens should take responsibility for rectifying past wrongs. Nahshon Perez challenges this view, questioning attempts to aggregate dead wrongdoers with living people, and examining ideas of intergenerational collective responsibility with great suspicion. He distinguishes sharply between those who are indeed unjustly enriched by past wrongs, and those who are not.

Looking at issues such as the distinction between compensation and restitution, counterfactuals and the non-identity problem, Perez concludes that individuals have the right to a clean slate, and that almost all of the pro-intergenerational redress arguments are unconvincing.

Key Features

  • Unique in claiming past wrongs should not be rectified
  • Analyses pro-intergenerational material redress arguments
  • Case studies include court cases from Australia, Northern Cyprus, the United States and Austria

Contents

Acknowledgments
Preface
Introduction
1: Laying the ground work
2: Non Identity and redressing historical injustices
3: Against redress (1), the individualistic perspective
4: Against redress (2), thinking about collectivities, states and nations
5: Inter-generational redress and forward looking considerations, and the remaining case for redressing past wrongs
Conclusion.

About the Author

Nahshon Perez is the Schusterman Visiting Assistant Professor at the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies at Boston University. Author of articles in journals including Journal of Applied Philosophy, Social Theory and Practice and Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy.

Reviews

Drawing on illuminating examples from politics and case law, N. Perez compellingly argues against compensating descendants of victims of historical injustices. Patiently and skillfully Perez builds a strong case for a clean slate: he shows it’s sometimes best to let bygones be bygones.

- Andrew I. Cohen, Director, Jean Beer Blumenfeld Center for Ethics, Georgia State University

Freedom from Past Injustices is a major contribution to the literature concerning the rectification of historical wrongs, and contains important arguments against rectifying past wrongs. It examines a highly important question: whether the descendants of victims of past wrongs should be compensated. It examines carefully and critically most of the arguments in the field and it defends successfully an unpopular position.

- Alon Harel, Mizock Chair in Administrative and Criminal Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem