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Historical Wrongs. The Two Other Domains

Pogge, Thomas W
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) In, Lukas H. Meyer, ed., Justice in Time: Responding to Historical Injustice. Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft. Pp. 117-134.

Should historical or past injustices affect present moral reasons for action? This question is central to the topic of historical injustice, writes Thomas Pogge at the outset of his chapter. This central question can be broken down into three sub-questions or domains (as Pogge terms them): (1) the distributive effects of past wrongs; (2) the holistic effects of past wrongs; and (3) the rule-shaping effects of past wrongs. Pogge notes that much attention has been given in historical-justice literature to the distributive effects of past wrongs. Hence, he concentrates in this essay on the latter two sub-questions or domains. With respect to the question of holistic effects of past wrongs, he examines two possibilities: whether past wrongs (a) strengthen or (b) weaken moral reasons to refrain from or prevent similar wrongs in the present and future. With respect to rule-shaping effects of past wrongs, he explores two aspects of this domain: (a) procedural injustice in the creation of present legal rules; and (b) unjust background conditions in the evolution of present institutional arrangements.


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