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Back to the Future: The Historical Dimension of Liberal Justice

Freeman, Michael
June 4, 2015

Source: (2007) In Max du Plessis and Stephen Pete, ed., Repairing the Past? International Perspectives on Reparations for Gross Human Rights Abuses. Oxford, UK: Intersentia. Pp. 29-51.

“The case for reparative justice can, therefore, seem straightforward. If A wrongfully harms B, A should ‘repair’ the harm so far as possible. Analysis shows, however, that the idea of repair harm is complex. The idea of making reparations for historical injustice is also problematic for liberal theory, because the liberal conception of justice is ideal and synchronic, and has difficulty in incorporating the rectification of past injustices. Yet reparations for gross human rights abuses and respect for human rights now are both grounded in the idea of human rights, which is widely endorsed by the liberal theory of justice. There is a need, therefore, to reconcile reparative justice with liberal theory. I shall try to show how this can be done.” (abstract)


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