Essays in Philosophy 10 (2):4 (2009)

Jessica Payson
Bentley College
In this paper, I work within Ruth Marcus’s account of the source of moral dilemmas and articulate the implications of her theory for collective responsibility. As an extension to Marcus’s work, I explore what her account means for the moral emotions and responsibilities of those complicit in perpetuating unjust systems of a non-ideal world from which moral dilemmas arise. This move necessitates shifting away from the primacy of control. That one is born into unjust systems one had no hand in establishing does not excuse one from responsibility to mend them. Similarly, even if one’s personal contribution in the perpetuation of unjust systems is negligible – the injustices would continue whether one participated or not, and one’s resistance would do little-to-nothing – one nevertheless retains responsibility. This expanded sense of responsibility necessitates a specialized sort of moral emotion – one that, like agent-regret or tragic-remorse, transcends the criterion of agentic control, but nevertheless can be classified neither as agent-regret nor tragic-remorse
Keywords Ruth Marcus  moral dilemmas  responsibility  collective responsibility  moral emotions  structural injustice  injustice  shared responsibility  agent-regret
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DOI 10.5840/eip20091021
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References found in this work BETA

Love and Knowledge: Emotion in Feminist Epistemology.Alison M. Jaggar - 1989 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 32 (2):151 – 176.
Moral Dilemmas and Consistency.Ruth Barcan Marcus - 1980 - Journal of Philosophy 77 (3):121-136.
Tragic-Remorse — the Anguish of Dirty Hands.Stephen De Wijze - 2005 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 7 (5):453 - 471.
Moral Conflicts: What They Are and What They Show.Michael Stocker - 1987 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 68 (2):104.

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