How should citizens’ collective liability for state action be grounded?

Journal of Global Ethics 13 (3):366-379 (2017)
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ABSTRACTThis paper assesses one type of justification for collective liability – the democratic authorization account – according to which citizens can be held liable for what their state does, because they collectively authorize the state’s actions. I argue that the democratic authorization view, properly understood, has an implausibly narrow scope, which risks leaving many victims of injustice without compensation. Hence, I propose a subsidiary account that is wider in scope, and which applies to most cases of state-inflicted harm. This view picks out liable agents on the basis of their ability to bear the compensatory burdens, the incentives that the prospect of liability give citizens to hold their states in check, and distributive concerns. Lastly, I address the relationship between citizens who are collectively liable for some harm, and citizens who are to some extent morally responsible.



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References found in this work

The law of peoples.John Rawls - 1999 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Edited by John Rawls.
World Poverty and Human Rights.Thomas Pogge - 2002 - Ethics and International Affairs 19 (1):1-7.
National Responsibility and Global Justice.David Miller - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The Problem of Global Justice.Thomas Nagel - 2005 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 33 (2):113-147.

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