Climate change can be construed as a question of collectiveresponsibility from two different viewpoints: climate change being inherently a collective problem, or collective entities bearing responsibility for climate change. When discussing collectiveresponsibility for climate change, “collective” can thus refer to the problem of climate change itself, or to the entity causing the harm and/or bearing responsibility for it. The first viewpoint focuses on how climate change is a harm that (...) has been caused collectively. Collective action problem refers to an aggregation of individual actions which together produce an outcome that is not intended at the level of an individual action. It cannot be solved by any one agent acting unilaterally. Instead, climate change action must be enacted and supported by numerous agents. The second way to conceptualize climate change as a question of collectiveresponsibility focuses on the collective entities that bear responsibility for climate change. As a global problem, climate change is linked to the realm of international politics, where states, governments, and intergovernmental organizations are the main collective entities. Other important agential collectives in terms of climate responsibility are corporations, including carbon majors who have produced the bulk of emissions. Climate change has also been theorized as a structural injustice, which combines elements from both the viewpoints on what is collective about responsibility for climate change. (shrink)
It is commonplace to attribute obligations to φ or blameworthiness for φ-ing to groups even when no member has an obligation to φ or is individually blameworthy for not φ-ing. Such non-distributive attributions can seem problematic in cases where the group is not a moral agent in its own right. In response, it has been argued both that non-agential groups can have the capabilities requisite to have obligations of their own, and that group obligations can be understood in terms of (...) moral demands on individual group members. It has also been suggested that members of groups can share responsibility for an outcome in virtue of being causally or socially connected to that outcome. This paper discusses the agency problem and argues that the most promising attempts at solutions understand group obligations and blameworthiness as grounded in demands on individual agents. (shrink)
This article argues against Anna Stilz's recent attempt to solve the problem of citizens' collectiveresponsibility in democratic states. I show that her solution could only apply to state actions that are (in legal terminology) unjustified but excusable. Stilz's marquee case – the 2003 invasion of Iraq – does not, I will argue, fit this bill; nor, in all likelihood, does any other case in recorded history. Thus, this article concludes, we may allow that Stilz's argument offers a (...) theoretically cogent case for citizens' task-responsibility in democratic states (given the right conditions); it just so happens that few if any cases satisfy these conditions. (shrink)
Collective apologies on behalf of governments to historically mistreated minorities have become more common. It is unclear, however, how we should respond to these apologies and other practices that invoke collectiveresponsibility for oppression (chapter 1). I review the current literature on collectiveresponsibility to better understand the obstacles facing an account of collectiveresponsibility for oppression (chapter 2). I then argue that we can make sense of these practices by holding powerful organized (...) collectives (chapter 3) and privileged disorganized collectives (chapter 4) responsible for oppression. These practices then can be what I call “morally legitimate” if they are confessions of self-blame, and this self-blame contains an element of collective-self protest (chapter 5). (shrink)
Existing institutions do not seem well-designed to address paradigmatically global, intergenerational and ecological problems, such as climate change. 1 In particular, they tend to crowd out intergenerational concern, and thereby facilitate a “tyranny of the contemporary” in which successive generations exploit the future to their own advantage in morally indefensible ways (albeit perhaps unintentionally). Overcoming such a tyranny will require both accepting responsibility for the future and meeting the institutional gap. I propose that we approach the first in terms (...) of a traditional “delegated responsibility” model of the transmission of individual responsibility to collectives, and the second with a call for a global constitutional convention focused on future generations. In this paper, I develop the delegated responsibility model by suggesting how it leads us to understand both past failures and prospective responsibility. I then briefly defend the call for a global constitutional convention. (shrink)
What is the moral significance of the contrast between acting together and strategic interaction? We argue that while collective moral responsibility is not uniquely tied to the former, the degree to which the participants in a shared intentional wrongdoing are blameworthy is normally higher than when agents bring about the same wrong as a result of strategic interaction. One argument for this claim focuses on the fact that shared intentions cause intended outcomes in a more robust manner than (...) the intentions involved in strategic interaction. We argue, however, that this in itself is not significant. The significant difference is rather volitional: The parties to a shared intention are mutually implicated in each other’s will in a distinct way. Since degree of blameworthiness depends on the quality of will an agent displays in her actions, this explains the higher degree of collective blameworthiness associated with shared intentional wrongdoing. (shrink)
Groups of people are commonly said to be collectively responsible for what has happened. Sometimes the groups claimed to be responsible are vast in size, as when collectiveresponsibility is ascribed to the class of all Americans or the class of all white males. In this book the concept of collectiveresponsibility is analyzed. It is examined not only in the light of what philosophical proponents have said about it, but a genuine attempt is made to (...) make sense of what ordinary people say about responsibility when it is ascribed to groups of people. Accordingly, it is distinguished from related concepts such as shared responsibility and moral taint. Parallels are examined between the actions of an individual and the actions of a group or collective, parallels which seem to make ascriptions of collectiveresponsibility more plausible. Some philosophers oppose collectiveresponsibility and argue for an individualist type of position; in this regard the positions of Lewis and Sverdlik are critically examined. The final chapter contains the author's own position, a position which affirms that collectiveresponsibility is possible but which also preserves some of the central intuitions of the individualist. (shrink)
This paper defends the claim that collectiveresponsibility can be based on group membership. It argues that collectiveresponsibility is best understood in terms of duties to respond to the victims of collective crimes. Reasonable fear on the part of the victimized groups creates duties to respond for members of the perpetrating group. This account does a better job of capturing our intuitions about actual cases and the phenomenology of collectiveresponsibility than other (...) accounts currently on offer. It also offers us a justification of collectiveresponsibility judgments that is compatible with the separateness of persons. (shrink)
Many contemporary forms of oppression are not primarily the result of formally organized collective action nor are they an unintended outcome of a combination of individual actions. This raises the question of collectiveresponsibility. I argue that we can only determine who is responsible for oppression if we understand oppression as a matter of social practices that create obstacles for social change. This social practice view of oppression enables two insights: First, that there is an unproblematic sense (...) in which groups can bear irreducible collectiveresponsibility for oppression. Second, that there are derived forms of individual responsibility for members of dominant groups. (shrink)
Which kinds of responsibility can we attribute to which kinds of collective, and why? In contrast, which kinds of collectiveresponsibility can we not attribute—which kinds are ‘gappy’? This study provides a framework for answering these questions. It begins by distinguishing between three kinds of collective and three kinds of responsibility. It then explains how gaps—i.e. cases where we cannot attribute the responsibility we might want to—appear to arise within each type of (...) class='Hi'>collectiveresponsibility. It argues some of these gaps do not exist on closer inspection, at least for some collectives and some of the time. (shrink)
This paper critically scrutinizes Pettit’s defence of corporate and collectiveresponsibility in the light three questions. First, does Pettit successfully argue the passage from corporate responsibility to the responsibility of embryonic group agents, in particular nations? Second, are representation and the authorial and editorial dimensions of democratic control sufficient to ensure that a state is under the effective and equally shared control of its citizens? Third, what kind of international order is required to prevent states from (...) being dominated? (shrink)
We often praise and blame groups of people like companies or governments, just like we praise and blame individual persons. This makes sense. Because some of the most important problems in our society, like climate change or mass surveillance, are not caused by individual people, but by groups. Philosophers have argued that there exists such a thing as group responsibility, which does not boil down to individual responsibility. This type of responsibility can only exist in groups that (...) are organized with joint knowledge, actions and intentions. However, often disorganized groups without joint knowledge, actions and intentions are precisely the kinds of groups that cause problems. Therefore, in such cases, it becomes difficult, according to traditional accounts of collectiveresponsibility to attribute responsibility to such groups. This has problematic implications. Therefore, I propose a new way of seeing collectiveresponsibility, which is able to attribute the vice of irresponsibility to such disorganized groups. This involves seeing responsibility not as a relationship between the group and some action, but rather, as a virtue. In cases where it is difficult to establish whether a group is responsible for something, we should ask ‘is this group responsible, or irresponsible?’ This line of questioning is likely to be a more productive and philosophically legitimate way of holding groups morally responsible in such cases. (shrink)
What are the implications for agency – and in particular, the idea of acting for reasons – if we are to take seriously the notion of collectiveresponsibility? My thesis is that some cases of individuals subject to a collective form of responsibility and blame will force us to make sense of how it is that an individual can be entitled to collective reasons for action, i.e. entitled to a reason had in the first place (...) by a plurality of individuals together rather than any one of them alone. This entitlement makes it possible for the collective reason to be a reason for which one acts, even if one’s contribution on its own makes little or no difference in the collective effort. Although a full defense of this entitlement cannot be undertaken here, I will gesture at how this might work by suggesting that intentions function to preserve reasons for action. . (shrink)
There are many cases of conduct for which responsibility can plausibly be ascribed to a group, in addition to any responsibility ascribable to the group's constituent members. It is important to be able to make such ascriptions because without them we are unable to assign responsibilities for many sorts of humanly-caused harms for which responsibility cannot reasonably be ascribed to individuals alone. Two recent theories of collectiveresponsibility advance our understanding of why it is important (...) to be able to hold groups accountable, but they apply only to a limited spectrum of groups, and rely on the plausibility of importing unnecessary individualistic assumptions into discussions of collectiveresponsibility. ;I argue that we can justify ascription of collectiveresponsibility without engaging in difficult metaphysical or ontological disputes. In particular, in order legitimately to ascribe collectiveresponsibility we need not demonstrate that groups are capable of exhibiting intentions, or that groups can be considered 'moral persons'. We may reasonably consider organized groups to take action, and we may justly blame or praise them, when their members engage in what I call 'joint purposive behavior', as when an automobile manufacturer knowingly markets faulty vehicles. I argue, further, that certain unorganized groups, or 'random collectivities', can justly be blamed for promoting values and attitudes conducive to harmful behavior, as when a hate group advocates violent actions against minorities, or praised as groups for promoting values that encourage laudable behavior. ;I argue that most objections to collectiveresponsibility rely on various misunderstandings of what it means for a group to be collectively responsible, notably, the belief that if a group is responsible its members cannot also be individually responsible, and the belief that collectiveresponsibility 'distributes' among the individuals in the responsible group. In addition, I argue that large-scale environmental problems such as global warming lend themselves to a collectivist analysis, and that a view of collectiveresponsibility that balances the harm-prevention and fault-finding purposes of responsibility ascription may help us to resolve such problems. (shrink)
If I were asked to put forward an ethical principle which I considered to be especially certain, it would be that no one can be responsible, in the properly ethical sense, for the conduct of another. Responsibility belongs essentially to the individual. The implications of this principle are much more far-reaching than is evident at first, and reflection upon them may lead many to withdraw the assent which they might otherwise be very ready to accord to this view of (...)responsibility. But if the difficulties do appear to be insurmountable, and that, very certainly, does not seem to me to be the case, then the proper procedure will be, not to revert to the barbarous notion of collective or group responsibility, but to give up altogether the view that we are accountable in any distinctively moral sense. (shrink)
The basic bearer of responsibility is individuals, because that isall there are – nothing else can literally be the bearer of fullresponsibility. Claims about group responsibility therefore needanalysis. This would be impossible if all actions must be understoodas ones that could be performed whether or not anyone else exists.Individuals often act by virtue of membership in certain groups;often such membership bears a causal role in our behavior, andsometimes people act deliberately in order to promote the prospectsof members of (...) a given group. Nevertheless, it is rational to awardproportionally to individual contributions to those actions andindividual shares in the production of the consequences of thoseactions. (shrink)
Philosophers constantly discuss Responsibility. Yet in every discussion of which I am aware, a rather obvious point is ignored. The obvious point is that responsibility is ascribed to collectives, as well as to individual persons. Blaming attitudes are held towards collectives as well as towards individuals. Responsibility is often ascribed to nations, towns, clubs, groups, teams, and married couples. ‘Germany was responsible for the Second World War’; ‘The club as a whole is to blame for being relegated’. (...) Such statements are not rare. (shrink)
In the first part of the paper an argument is developed to the effect that (1) there is no moral ground for individual persons to feel responsible for or guilty about crimes of their group to which they have in no way contributed; and (2) since there is no irreducibly collectiveresponsibility nor guilt at any time, there is no question of them persisting over time. In the second part it is argued that there is nevertheless sufficient reason (...) for innocent individual members of a group (that persists over time) to take on responsibility and guilt for the evil other (earlier) members have committed. The reason depends on the acceptability of a particular psychological theory of personal identity. (shrink)
There is good reason to think that moral responsibility as accountability is tied to the violation of moral demands. This lends intuitive support to Type-Symmetry in the collective realm: A type of responsibility entails the violation or unfulfillment of the same type of all-things-considered duty. For example, collectiveresponsibility necessarily entails the violation of a collective duty. But Type-Symmetry is false. In this paper I argue that a non-agential group can be collectively responsible without (...) thereby violating a collective duty. To show this I distinguish between four types of responsibility and duty in collective contexts: corporate, distributed, collective, shared. I set out two cases: one involves a non-reductive collective action that constitutes irreducible wrongdoing, the other involves a non-divisible consequence. I show that the violation of individual or shared duties both can lead to irreducible wrongdoing for which only the group is responsible. Finally, I explain why this conclusion does not upset any work on individual responsibility. (shrink)
In his paper ‘CollectiveResponsibility’ Mr. D. E. Cooper argues for the thesis that collectives can be held responsible in a sense not reducible to the individual responsibility of the members of the collective. And he uses this conclusion to support views of individual responsibility and of blame and punishment which he wishes to assert independently. Is hall argue that although there is a sense in which the actions and responsibility of a collective (...) cannot be analysed in terms of the actions and responsibilities of the individual persons who compose the collective, it is not moral responsibility which is involved. I shall then maintain that Cooper's account of collectiveresponsibility does not support his account of individual responsibility; and that his account of individual responsibility is in any case false, if he means moral responsiblity. (shrink)
The article presents the nature of shared intentions and collectiveresponsibility in simultaneous discussion of individualism, which views that collective agents and shared intentions are to be analyzed in relation between individual agents who are members of the collectives. It discusses as well the agent meaning theory that states that an agent moves against the interpretive background of action evaluation shared by the agent and the moral community.
Given the importance of scientific research in shaping our perception of the world, and our senses of what policies will and won’t succeed in altering that world, it is of great practical, political, and moral importance that we carry out scientific research with integrity. The phenomenon of scientific fraud stands in the way of that, as scientists may knowingly enter claims they take to be false into the scientific literature, often knowingly doing so in defiance of norms they profess allegiance (...) to. In this chapter we take a look at some of the causes of scientific fraud, and how it might be manifested in large-scale research teams and situations of anonymous authorship. We find that such cases make trouble for what might seem like intuitive answers to the question “who should be held responsible for this fraud?”, and we argue that in such cases it would be better to hold the entire community responsible for seeing to it that there is less fraud. (shrink)
The Routledge Handbook of CollectiveResponsibility comprehensively addresses questions about who is responsible and how blame or praise should be attributed when human agents act together. Such questions include: Do individuals share responsibility for the outcome or are individuals responsible only for their contribution to the act? Are individuals responsible for actions done by their group even when they don't contribute to the outcome? Can a corporation or institution be held morally responsible apart from the responsibility (...) of its members? The Handbook's 35 chapters--all appearing here for the first time and written by an international team of experts--are organized into four parts: Part I: Foundations of CollectiveResponsibility Part II: Theoretical Issues in CollectiveResponsibility Part III: Domains of CollectiveResponsibility Part IV: Applied Issues in CollectiveResponsibility Each part begins with a short introduction that provides an overview of issues and debates within that area and a brief summary of its chapters. In addition, a comprehensive index allows readers to better navigate the entirety of the volume's contents. The result is the first major work in the field that serves as an instructional aid for those in advanced undergraduate courses and graduate seminars, as well as a reference for scholars interested in learning more about collectiveresponsibility. (shrink)
Building on Peter French’s important work, this chapter draws three distinctions that arise in the context of attributions of moral responsibility, understood as the extent to which an agent is blameworthy or praiseworthy. First, the subject of an attribution of responsibility may be an individual agent or a collective agent. Second, the object of the responsibility attribution may be an individual action (or consequence) or a collective action (or consequence). The third distinction concerns the temporal (...) dimension of the responsibility attribution. Sometimes responsibility for an action is attributed to an agent at the time of the action. At other times responsibility for an action is attributed to an agent sometime after the action has taken place. Taken together, these three binary distinctions yield eight types of responsibility attribution. It is argued that a collective agent’s responsibility for a past collective act is properly understood on the same theoretical model as is an individual’s responsibility for a past individual act. While most assume that responsibility over time is a straightforward matter of identity over time, it is argued that instead this is a matter of psychological or attitudinal connectedness. The possibility is considered that this relation also grounds attributions involving an asymmetry between subject and object, such as individual responsibility for past collective action, but a skeptical worry is raised that such attributions entail an unpalatable form of moral luck and should therefore be rejected. (shrink)
The article presents critical examination of theories about collectiveresponsibility attempting to cover responsibility for historic injustices. The author will also try to establish the possibility of collectiveresponsibility for the present members of the group to make recompense for the injustices committed by their ancestors depending on two factors expounded in the article.
The article presents the issues arising from the memberships of moral agents in collectives that have the burden of moral responsibility. Likewise, it examines the qualifying actions that qualify their membership including deliberate contribution, risk taking and others. It differentiates collectiveresponsibility to shared responsibility.
More than one person can be responsible for a particular state of affairs--In this sense collective moral responsibility does indeed exist. However, Even in such cases, Moral responsibility is still fundamentally individualized since each agent responsible for a particular state of affairs is responsible for his/her actions which have the intention of producing this state of affairs.
This article offers a model of collectiveresponsibility that arises out of group implication in the persistent injustices of racism and colonialism. It engages with a case study of Jewish refugees who arrived in the Americas in the aftermath of the 1492 Spanish Edict of Expulsion. There, it identifies a strategy of survival grounded in identification with white Christians at the top of the colonial hierarchy and disidentification with Black and Native peoples at the bottom. This identification yielded (...) benefits for colonial Jews and those (the author included) who inherit their place in the colonial racial hierarchy. These benefits were at the expense of Black and Native peoples in the Americas. The article highlights the relational harms—to others and themselves—inherent in group complicity with white supremacy. It concludes by outlining the forms of collectiveresponsibility that could counteract these harms and create relationality beyond white supremacy. (shrink)
Towards the end of her seminal work on the notion of representation Hanna Pitkin makes the following observation:At the end of the Second World War and during the Nuremberg trials there was much speculation about the war guilt of the German people. [...] Many people might argue the responsibility of the German people even though a Nazi government was not representative. We might agree, however, that in the case of a representative government the responsibility would be more clear-cut.2As (...) Pitkin suggests in this quotation, there is a common underlying assumption, both in academic writings and in popular perceptions of democracy, that a people living under a democratic government is ultimately responsible for that .. (shrink)
In his recent book, National responsibility and global justice, David Miller conceptualizes and justifies a model of national responsibility. His conceptualization proceeds in two steps: he starts by developing two models of collectiveresponsibility, the like?minded group model and the cooperative practice model. He then proceeds to discuss national responsibility, a species of collectiveresponsibility, and argues that nations have features such that the two models of collectiveresponsibility also apply to (...) them. In this article I focus on the question whether Miller?s like?minded group model and the cooperative practice model are plausible and convincing models of collectiveresponsibility. I will argue that the like?minded model does not provide a plausible conceptualization of collectiveresponsibility, while the collective practice model provides a good model for collectiveresponsibility but is not particularly helpful in conceptualizing national responsibility. (shrink)
This chapter argues that in cases in which a (non-institutional) group is collectively causally responsible and collectively morally responsible for some harm which is either (i) brought about intentionally or (ii) foreseen as the side effect of something brought about intentionally or (iii) unforeseen but a nonaggregative harm, each member of the group is equally and as fully responsible for the harm as if he or she had done it alone.
The study of responsibility in ethics focuses on the nature of agency, accountability, blame, punishment and, crucially, the distribution of responsibility for complex ethical problems. Work in social ontology examines the nature of entities such as groups, organizations, corporations, and institutions, and what it is for these entities to have intentional states and to act. Until recently, these fields of research have mostly been treated separately. The goal of this issue is to examine emerging research at their intersection. (...) The papers gathered here explore both normative dimensions of work in social ontology and metaphysical assumptions and implications of ethical theorizing about collectiveresponsibility. (shrink)