Submission Date


Document Type




Faculty Mentor

Kelly Sorensen


Presented during the 18th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 22, 2016 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

Reparations has always been a lingering topic in American history – one that is heavily discussed, but never quite put into action. Though there are many who agree that payment is owed for slavery, or that a crime was committed, they are often dissuaded by various issues, or by the idea that reparations are “too divisive” and would encourage racial dissension. In my project, I address these arguments, and establish a case for reparations and the ethical responsibility behind it. My project explores themes of duty, responsibility, and compensation for wrongdoing as applied to the American slave trade. In this project, I explore what makes people so uncomfortable with the idea of reparations, and how this discomfort has created a level of social denial. I also discuss the moral implications of this denial, and how it connects to the historical mistreatment of black individuals. Through the use of various philosophy texts such as Margaret Urban Walker’s Moral Repair and Professor Bernard Boxill’s work in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, as well as other, more socially based media, such as Ta-Nehisi Coates’s The Case for Reparations and the documentary Traces of the Trade, I have compiled a series of arguments designed to explain the rationale of anti-reparations arguments, and to explain that reparations are not only right, but a moral necessity.

Open Access

Available to all.