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In Defense of OpennessWhy Global Freedom Is the Humane Solution to Global Poverty$
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Bas van der Vossen and Jason Brennan

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190462956

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190462956.001.0001

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Correcting the Past

Correcting the Past

Imperialism and Colonialism

(p.112) 8 Correcting the Past
In Defense of Openness

Bas van der Vossen

Jason Brennan

Oxford University Press

One popular argument for global redistribution focuses on the history of colonialism, which is rife with injustices perpetrated by the former governments of Western nations. Current citizens of these societies can be taxed to pay reparations to people their former colonies. The chapter inspects two different arguments for this view: one focusing on unjustly gotten gains for rich Western citizens, the other focusing on unjust harms befalling citizens of developing nations. The former argument fails because it misdecribes the fact; contrary to popular belief, most Western citizens were actually harmed by colonialism. The latter argument is better, and actually supports a case for reparations. However, contrary to its proponents’ beliefs, such reparations ought not take the form of large-scale redistribution, but the form of removing the unjust barriers people face that continue the harms they now experience. The duty to repair past injustice mostly strengthens the conclusions of this book.

Keywords:   colonialism, historic injustice, redistribution, reparations, ill-gotten gains

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