Presented by Associate Professor Stephanie Collins

Do contemporary states bear moral culpability for centuries-ago wrongs? If so, which contemporary states bear moral culpability for which wrongs? This paper begins by outlining a picture of states’ agency on which states are indeed liable to moral culpability. It then considers, and rejects, two possible answers to the opening questions: (1) culpability transmits from a past state’s action to a present state just if the states are identical, as determined by international law; and (2) culpability transmits from a past state’s action to a present state just if the two states have substantively similar structures, procedures, and/or values. Instead, I argue culpability transmits from a past state’s action to a present state to the extent that the present state ‘internally descends’ from the culpable action of the past state. The relationship of ‘internal descent’ is one in which the existence of the present state and its ‘agential resources’ is the result of the autonomous exercise of the ‘agential resources’ of the past state. One upshot is that Australia is culpable for the 18th-century invasion of Australia by Britain, in the sense of morally owing redress for this action, in a way that identity-based theories cannot capture.

Zoom - Please contact Guillermo Badia for details g.badia@uq.edu.au

Venue

Zoom - Please contact Guillermo Badia for details g.badia@uq.edu.au