The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Moral Agency and the Role of Victims in Reparations Programs
39 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2007 Last revised: 20 Feb 2012
Date Written: December 8, 2009
Despite the growing interest in reparations, at the domestic and international level, little attention has been given to the role of victims in the design and implementation of reparations programs. Instead, most programs and commentators place emphasis upon the apology, recompense, or restitution required by former wrongdoers rather than the restoration and recovery of victims. This prevailing approach neglects the critical role that communities and individuals suffering from past abuses should play in order to reestablish their personal well being and societal standing. This methodology replicates the past subordination of victims by rendering them the passive recipients of government actions that they have little or no control over. Over the past fifty years, reparations programs have varied in their overall quality and in their attention to this issue. This article examines some of the most well known domestic and international reparations programs and evaluates them based on how well they facilitate victims' participation in their own recovery. The analysis concludes that programs that enable victims to play a part in critical societal institutions offer a more thorough remedy to past harms by fostering victims' moral agency.
Keywords: Good, bad, ugly, moral, agency, role, victims, reparations, programs
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