Pandemic Windfalls and Obligations of Justice


  • Brian Berkey University of Pennsylvania, United States



The Covid-19 pandemic has caused significant economic hardships for millions of people around the world. Meanwhile, many of the world’s richest people have seen their wealth increase substantially during the pandemic, despite the significant economic disruptions that it has caused on the whole. It is uncontroversial that these effects, which have exacerbated already unacceptable levels of poverty and inequality, call for robust policy responses from governments. In this paper, I argue that the disparate economic effects of the pandemic also generate direct obligations of justice for those who have benefitted from pandemic windfalls. Specifically, I argue that even if we accept that those who benefit from distributive injustice in the ordinary, predictable course of life within unjust institutions do not have direct obligations to redirect their unjust benefits to those who are unjustly disadvantaged, there are powerful reasons to hold that benefitting from pandemic windfalls does ground such an obligation.

Author Biography

Brian Berkey, University of Pennsylvania, United States

Brian Berkey is Assistant Professor in the Legal Studies and Business Ethics Department in the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and holds a secondary appointment in the Penn Philosophy Department. He works in moral and political philosophy, including environmental and business ethics, and has published articles on moral demandingness, individual and corporate obligations of justice, climate change ethics, exploitation, effective altruism, collective obligations, and animal ethics.




How to Cite

Berkey, B. (2021). Pandemic Windfalls and Obligations of Justice. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, 14(1), 58–70.