chapter  13
The “beneficiary pays” principle: those who benefit must pay
Pages 10

Unfortunately, there is injustice in the world. If this injustice cannot be prevented, then the perpetrators should at least have to take responsibility for their off ences and compensate the victims: That was the intuition behind the polluter pays principle. But, in reality, our world is more complicated. The problem is that, sometimes, the perpetrators cannot compensate their victims because the perpetrator has died, cannot be brought to justice, or has, in the meantime, become destitute. And sometimes third parties benefi t from the injustice that the perpetrators have infl icted on their victims: You may derive benefi ts from the cheap bicycle that you acquired yesterday in an online auction, but which, a week ago, was locked away in someone’s basement. Even if you did not know that it was stolen goods, if you are caught with the stolen bicycle, you can hardly claim that it is none of your concern and that you have no obligations to the rightful owner; rather, you seem to be under an obligation to return the bicycle. Thus our moral practice involves the notion that benefi ting from wrongdoing gives rise to moral obligations. If an off ender wrongs someone and a third person benefi ts from the wrongdoing, then the third party seems to have a duty to the victim to make amends for the wrong-at least when the perpetrator is no longer in a position to do so.