Disclaiming responsibility, voicing disagreements, negotiating boundaries

Carla Bagnoli
University of Modena
This essay introduces the novel category of “disclaimers” – distinctive normative acts which challenge third-party attributions of responsibility in a community governed by norms of mutual accountability. While the debate focuses on evasive and wrongful refusals to take responsibility for one’s wrongs, this essay argues that disclaimers are fundamental modes of exercising normative powers, whose main functions are demanding recognition, responding to wrongs, voicing disagreement, exiting alienating conditions, and calling for a fair redistribution of specific responsibilities. In particular, understood as disclaimers, denials of responsibility are shown to be key modes of ethical and political empowerment, which play a significant role in producing normative changes and directing societal transformations.
Keywords ethics  responsibility  claims
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