Res Publica

pp 1–19 | Cite as

What is the Wrong in Retaining Benefits from Wrongdoing? How Recent Attempts to Formulate a Plausible Rationale for the ‘Beneficiary Pays Principle’ Have Failed

  • Sigurd LindstadEmail author


Many moral and political theorists have recently argued that the fact that an agent has innocently benefited from wrongdoing or injustice can ground special moral duties to help out the victims or simply give up the benefits. This idea is often referred to as the ‘Beneficiary Pays Principle’ (BPP). This article critically assesses three recent attempts at providing a rationale for the BPP and argues that there are profound problems with each of them. It argues that even if we accept plausible versions of the different normative ideas these accounts appeal to, we have no reason to accept the BPP.


Beneficiary pays Remedial duties Distributing responsibility Innocently benefiting from injustice Climate justice Historical injustices Reparations 



I would like to thank Robert Huseby, Bashshar Haydar, Göran Duus Otterström and the anonymous referees of Res Publica for valuable comments on earlier drafts of this article.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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