Collective Omissions and Responsibility

Philosophical Papers 37 (2):243-261 (2008)
Sometimes it seems intuitively plausible to hold loosely structured sets of individuals morally responsible for failing to act collectively. Virginia Held, Larry May, and Torbj rn T nnsj have all drawn this conclusion from thought experiments concerning small groups, although they apply the conclusion to large-scale omissions as well. On the other hand it is commonly assumed that (collective) agency is a necessary condition for (collective) responsibility. If that is true, then how can we hold sets of people responsible for not having acted collectively? This paper argues that that loosely structured inactive groups sometimes meet this requirement if we employ a weak (but nonetheless non-reductionist) notion of collective agency. This notion can be defended on independent grounds. The resulting position on distribution of responsibility is more restrictive than Held's, May's or T nnsj 's, and this consequence seems intuitively attractive
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DOI 10.1080/05568640809485221
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References found in this work BETA
Peter F. Strawson (1962). Freedom and Resentment. Proceedings of the British Academy 48:1-25.
Philip Pettit (2010). Groups with Minds of Their Own. In Alvin I. Goldman & Dennis Whitcomb (eds.), Social Epistemology: Essential Readings. Oxford University Press
Björn Petersson (2007). Collectivity and Circularity. Journal of Philosophy 104 (3):138-156.

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