Is all moral responsibility ultimately individual responsibility?

Child, Russell (2018) Is all moral responsibility ultimately individual responsibility? Doctoral thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

The way people naturally talk about groups suggests they can be held morally responsible in their own right. People speak of blaming the banks for the global financial crisis while praising Oxfam for its charitable endeavours. In spite of this there is a clear tendency in contemporary philosophy to limit moral responsibility to individuals, thereby denying the existence and relevance of collective moral responsibility in general and the moral responsibility of groups like corporations, states and international institutions in particular. In this thesis I develop an account of responsibility that applies to both collectives and individuals. In particular I focus on developing an account of collective responsibility that is non-distributive. My account does not deny individual responsibility. Nor does it seek to replace individualistic accounts. It is intended to provide and additional layer of moral responsibility. I am particularly interested in scenarios where the harms are mediated by social and institutional structures leading to structural injustice occurring when organisations, institutions or governments discriminate directly or implicitly against certain groups of people to limit their rights. This is important because some of the most serious contemporary harms result from structural injustice, which is a form of injustice where the harms are not traceable to individual wrongdoers. Hence the need for a collectivist account of moral responsibility. Exclusively individualistic accounts of structural injustice do not fully incorporate the many other responsible collectives like states, international institutions and transnational corporations. I also consider the distinction between guilt and responsibility. Some theorists have a favourable view of guilt as it applies to collectives and/or individuals arguing that it has an instrumental value. My account of collective responsibility is sympathetic to this view of guilt but only as it applies to individuals. In which case the issue of distribution does not arise for guilt.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Social Sciences, History & Philosophy > Philosophy
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2018 13:10
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2018 13:10
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/300

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