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The "Beneficiary-Pays" Principle and Race-Conscious Affirmative Action

Katerina Psaroudaki, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


According to the “Beneficiary-Pays” Principle, the innocent beneficiary of injustice ought to compensate the victim of injustice by relinquishing the unjustly earned benefits. My dissertation defends a novel version of the “Beneficiary Pays” duty by pursuing a normative analogy with the duty of Fair Play; a violation of both duties distorts the fair and equal distribution of human freedom. I show that a compensatory duty towards the victim of injustice binds the beneficiary if and only if (a) they have voluntarily accepted the benefits of injustice, and (b) the benefits have been intrinsically produced by the victim’s efforts. I, then, examine the implications of my version of the “Beneficiary-Pays” duty within the context of race-conscious affirmative action for the sake of rectifying racial injustice. I show that the most plausible argument in favor of rectificatory race-conscious affirmative action is the following: racial injustice has reduced the qualifications of black Americans while increasing the qualifications of white Americans; in virtue of this unjust asymmetry in qualifications, the former are worthy of reparation and the latter are the primarily responsible for offering reparation. I refute the argument by showing that, white Americans have not voluntarily accepted the benefits of racial injustice, as they would not be willing to obtain the same benefits in an alternative injustice-free world.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Psaroudaki, Katerina, "The "Beneficiary-Pays" Principle and Race-Conscious Affirmative Action" (2020). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI27956643.