Reflective Responsibility: Using IS to Ascribe Collective Responsibility

Philosophy of Management 4 (1):13-24 (2004)
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Abstract

While work in modern corporations tends to take place in groups or teams it is not quite clear which status these groups have. Are they genuine agents or are they simply collections of individuals? The question is important because the answer is often held to determine whether collectives can be viewed as subjects of responsibility. This paper raises the question of collective responsibility and focuses on the impact the use of information systems (IS) has on it. Starting with an analysis of the concept of responsibility it argues that the ascription of responsibility is admissible if it achieves certain social goals and it reviews the arguments concerning responsibility and collective subjects. Turning to information systems, it argues that their use can affect the process of ascribing responsibility both negatively and positively. It proposes the idea of ‘reflective responsibility’ and employs the reflective approach as a basis for using IS to support and enable the ascription of collective responsibility.

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Bernd Stahl
Westfälische Wilhelms Universität, Münster

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