Innocently Benefiting from Injustice (completed)

The project aims to provide theoretical and practical analysis of an important, but so far insufficiently studied aspect of moral and political theory, namely the question of whether, and to what extent, an agent can acquire compensatory or rectificatory duties in virtue of being an innocent beneficiary of injustice.

About the project

Innocent beneficiaries are not involved in any way in the injustice itself. They are merely enriched through the injustice. We refer to the idea that agents can have such duties as the Beneficiary Principle. Understanding this principle is important for understanding the nature of our duties as moral agents. Gauging the moral significance of the Beneficiary Principle is of particular importance when considering cases where some agents have innocently benefited, or are benefiting from injustice, and where those that contributed to the injustice itself are either unwilling or unable to rectify it. Examples of this sort include differential burdens and benefits arising from human-induced climate change, historic injustices (such as colonialism), and unjust arrangements of international trade and economic cooperation.

Full project description


The main aim of the project is to analyze the normative plausibility and practical implications of benefiting from injustice. Further, the Beneficiary Principle thus stands in need of substantial clarification. The project therefore aims to:

  • assess the normative force of the Beneficiary Principle
  • consider the extent to which the Beneficiary Principle interacts with other factors (such as intention)
  • assess the implications of the principle – once properly understood – for some practical dilemmas.


It is an explicit aim of the project that all of the articles developed in connection with it be published in high quality international peer-reviewed journals, mainly within the fields of moral and political philosophy. Some additional articles will be published in Norwegian peer-reviewed journals in order to present the main findings of the project to a national audience. Research and points for discussion will also be presented in Norwegian newspapers, in order to make  the results of the research available to a wider public.


The project is financed by the Research Council of Norway and is hosted by the Centre of the Study of Mind in Nature.


The project has many cooperation partners from the world-renowned universities such as Australian National University, Oxford University, University of Auckland and a number of others. For a detailed list of partners, please consult the box on the right.


Published Feb. 26, 2013 2:47 PM - Last modified Feb. 27, 2019 10:11 AM


Robert Huseby

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