Centre for Applied Ethics and Philosophy, Hokkaido University (2011)

It is widely accepted that industrialized or wealthy countries in particular have moral obligations or duties of justice to combat world poverty or to shoulder burdens of climate change. But what does it actually mean to say that a state has moral obligations or duties of justice? In this paper I discuss Toni Erskine’s account of moral agency of states. With her, I argue that collectives such as states can hold (collective) moral duties. However, Erskine’s approach does not clarify what moral duties of collectives entail for their members. I suggest that these duties entail corresponding (contributory) duties for the members of the collective. I propose three criteria for determining the magnitude of an individual agent’s or sub-group’s contributory duty to a collective duty: capacity, moral correlation, and commitments of oneself and other agents.
Keywords collective agency  collective responsibility  global justice  Toni Erskine  moral obligations of states  political philosophy
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The Corporation as a Moral Person.Peter A. French - 1979 - American Philosophical Quarterly 16 (3):207 - 215.
Moral Demands in Nonideal Theory.Liam B. Murphy - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
Responsibility and Global Labor Justice.Iris Marion Young - 2004 - Journal of Political Philosophy 12 (4):365-388.
Social Action: A Teleological Account.Seumas Miller - 2001 - Cambridge University Press.

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