What Is Reparative Justice?

What Is Reparative Justice?

What Is Reparative Justice?

What Is Reparative Justice?

Synopsis

The 2010 Aquinas Lecture, What is Reparative Justice?, was delivered on Sunday, February 28, 2010, by Margaret Urban Walker. Prof. Walker is Lincoln Professor of Ethics and Professor of Philosophy at Arizona State University.

Prof. Walker received the Ph.D. in Philosophy from Northwestern University in 1975, and was a member of the Philosophy Department at Fordham University from 1974-2002. She has taught philosophy and philosophical ethics in undergraduate and graduate programs at several universities. Prof. Walker’s research and teaching fields include Anglo-American moral and political theory, restorative justice and reparations, the history of ethics, feminist ethics, and Wittgenstein. A main theme of her earlier work is the impact of social differences and inequalities on everyday moral thinking and on philosophical ethics. Her most recent book, Moral Repair, examines the ethics and moral psychology of responding to wrongdoing in ways that restore trust and hope, the basis of moral relations. She is currently working on a conception of reparative justice and reparations, as well as on the moral significance of public truth-telling, and other issues related to human rights and post-conflict repair.

Excerpt

The idea of reparation – of amends owed for wrongs and wrongful harms – is ancient, universal, and a basic intuition of justice. Yet despite its ancient and distinguished lineage in Western philosophy, its familiar role in legal remedies for unjust losses and takings, and its increasing application to victims of political violence and repression, reparative justice has not received the wide consideration and sustained debate in contemporary thought that distributive and retributive justice have enjoyed.

In Western philosophy, the founding ancestral account of justice in repairing wrongs is Aristotle’s discussion of corrective justice in the Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle institutes the idea that wrongs are set right by giving back to the injured party that which restores “equality,” that is, giving back to the wronged party something he properly had that an injustice by someone else caused him to lose. Aristotle’s account, however, is brief and lacking in details. Although Aristotle expressly includes rectification of such “involuntary transactions” as murder or assault, and refers to a judicial “penalty” that equalizes parties even in such cases, it is not clear . . .

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