Innocently Benefiting from Injustice (completed)

The aim of this project was to provide theoretical and practical analysis of 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 was to analyze the normative plausibility and practical implications of benefiting from injustice. Further, there was a need for substantial clarification about the Beneficiary Principle. The project therefore aimed 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.


The project was financed by The Research Council of Norway.


The project was hosted by the completed Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature (CSMN). 


The project had 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 listed participants. 


Published Oct. 9, 2020 10:44 AM - Last modified Dec. 15, 2020 10:04 AM