Ethics of reparation

“You don’t simply say ‘I’m sorry to a man you’ve robbed. . . . You return what you stole or your apology takes on a hollow ring.” Consider the ethics of reparation in the USA that attempts to address harms done to racial groups other than whites and women. That is, in the realms of racism and sexism.

Let’s bring the discussion of reparation for harms done down to the ethical foundation underlying it. Forget, for now, the apparent achievability of implementing programs that may seem impossible to implement. For example, giving back the land robbed from native people may sound utterly impossible to implement, but perhaps it is the only truly ethical choice in this circumstance. What about reparation for the enslavement of African Americans? Or for the economic, personal, and societal impacts of sexism on women? There are, of course, more examples of groups affected.

Please write a 2 page paper in our standard format on the ethics of reparation. Examine your own actual ethical view on this topic and write from that stance. Choose one, two, or three groups that have been discriminated against (African Americans / Native Americans) and envision ways that reparation might become a reality. Try to dig deep and consider what would actually make up for harms done, as well as achieve a level of equality currently. If you feel that reparation and/or equality are not appropriate, then substantiate that stance.

Carefully read the chapter prior to writing and bring in material that supports your ideas. Put yourself in the shoes of the groups you are examining. Would your reparations make a difference to you? If not, what might? Gaining equality of opportunity and well-being in all areas of life is an important part of the reparation. Can you begin to address this possibility? The idea, in philosophical writing, is to be clear and succinct.


Philosophy Ethics required textbook (Timmons, Mark. Disputed Moral Issues: A Reader. Fourth Edition. Oxford University Press, 2017 (Chapter 6 Sexism, Racism, and Reparation).

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