Why the Comparative Utility Argument Is a Red Herring

Journal of Social Philosophy 48 (4):499-506 (2017)
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The comparative utility argument holds that the descendants of African slaves in America are not owed any compensation because they have not been harmed by slavery. Rather, slavery in America was beneficial to the descendants of slaves because they are now able to live in a country that is considerably richer today than any of the African countries from which slaves were taken. In this paper, I show that the comparative utility argument is a red herring with no bearing whatsoever on the question of slave reparations because it conflates two separate wrongs: slavery and forced immigration. The fact that the descendants of slaves now live in America is a consequence of the latter, but not the former. As such, it has no bearing on the legitimacy reparations for slavery.
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