Reconsidering Reparations - Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò
From Cody Pope on September 19th, 2020
Why and how should we respond to justice-based demands for reparations that trace to a world historical context that involves centuries of colonialism, trans-Atlantic slave trading, and other practices that have led to devastating and structurally entrenched ongoing racial oppression? Olufemi Taiwo rejects well-worn paths in political philosophy according to which the goal of reparations should be ameliorate the harms of these horrific practices, harms either to those that suffer the harms of racial oppression, or to the relationships between the oppressed and the oppressors. Rather, for Taiwo, the goal of reparations is self-determination for people now and in the future for reasons we find in the past.
His theory centers the kind of self-determination that is a persistent central theme in the work of Black activists seeking a path to liberation to develop combined with distributive justice to yield a constructive view of reparations. On this view, reparations is backward looking in order to identify those to whom we owe reparations, forward looking in that what we owe depends on what it will take to ensure self-determination in the future.
Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò joined Georgetown University as an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University after earning his PhD in Philosophy at University of California, Los Angeles. He also holds Bas in Philosophy and Political Science from Indiana University. Táíwò specializes in Ethical Theory, Social/Political Philosophy, and Africana Philosophy, and also focuses on Feminist Philosophy, Philosophy of Race, Normative Ethics.
In approaching his theoretical work, he digs deeply into a rich combination of interdisciplinary resources including German transcendental philosophy, contemporary philosophy of language, contemporary social science, histories of activism and activist thinkers, and the Black radical tradition. Of particular interest is his book-in-progress, Reconsidering Reparations (under contract with Oxford University Press) that develops a philosophical argument for reparations that connects to issues of environmental justice. In addition to standard scholarly venues, Táíwò also embraces the discipline’s movement toward public philosophy to connect with readers in popular outlets on current issues connected to his research, such as a recent popular article that explores intersections between climate justice and colonialism.