This introductory chapter outlines the empirical context of the debate over reparations for historic international injustice, with particular reference to colonialism and the slave trade. It characterizes the argument of the book as a specific type of non-ideal theory, and explains the book's commitment to a particular kind of practicality, whereby its arguments can be employed by real world political actors. It outlines an approach to international justice labelled ‘international libertarianism’, advocated by writers including John Rawls, David Miller, Michael Walzer, and Thomas Nagel, which is analogous to domestic libertarianism in terms of its commitment to respect for sovereignty, self-ownership, and the minimal state. This is distinguished from alternative accounts of international justice such as cosmopolitanism and realism. The book's focus on rectificatory duties, rather than rights, is explained, and the terminological relation between terms such as restitution and compensation, and nation and state, is explicated.
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