Most theorizing about reparations treats it as a social justice project – either rooted in reconciliatory justice focused on making amends in the present; or, they focus on the past, emphasizing restitution for historical wrongs. I will argue that neither approach is optimal, and advance a different case for reparations rooted in distributive justice, which I refer to as the “constructive” view of reparations. I’ll also present some of what I take to be the political and policy implications of this view.
Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University. He works on social/political philosophy and ethics, with an emphasis on figures and themes from anticolonial, anticapitalist, and Black radical traditions. His new book, Reconsidering Reparations, is forthcoming with Oxford University Press.