Journal of Applied Philosophy 23 (2):207–221 (2006)
The members of any functioning modern society live their lives amid complex networks of overlapping institutions. Apart from the major political institutions of law and government, however, much normative political theory seems to regard this institutional fabric as largely a pragmatic convenience. This paper contests this assumption by reflecting on how institutions both constrain and enable spheres of effective action and responsibility. In this way a society’s institutional fabric constitutes, in Samuel Scheffler’s phrase, an infrastructure of responsibility. The paper discusses three key normative aspects of this infrastructure. First, institutions define roles and rules, alongside forms of sanction and encouragement, so as to realise limited forms of practical, normative agreement. Second, institutions allocate and adjudicate distinct responsibilities. This creates separate spheres of initiative, ensuring responsibilities are fulfilled and providing for structured disagreement and change. Third, because we move through a plurality of institutions and associations, we experience varying responsibilities and forms of recognition. Individual identities thus depend on several different forms of recognition, and are well placed to resist totalising or fundamentalist temptations. In sum, the paper argues that a liberal institutional fabric provides essential moral stability, though not an undesirable fixity. By containing the fragility and dangers of individual moral judgment, our institutional fabric allows such judgment to play a valuable role in human affairs.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
References found in this work BETA
Citations of this work BETA
Responsibility as a Virtue.Garrath Williams - 2008 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (4):455-470.
Making Partnerships Work: Issues of Risk, Trust and Control for Managers and Service Providers. [REVIEW]Rae Walker, Penny Smith & Jenny Adam - 2009 - Health Care Analysis 17 (1):47-67.
Similar books and articles
Moral Responsibility—What is All the Fuss About?Kenton Machina - 2007 - Acta Analytica 22 (1):29-47.
Authority of International Institutions: The Case for International Human Rights Treaty Bodies.Basak Cali & Alice Wyss - unknown
The Burden of Securing Social Justice: Institutions, Individuals, and Moral Action.Jean Harvey - 2007 - Philosophical Explorations 22:137-152.
Law and Irresponsibility: On the Legitimation of Human Suffering.Scott Veitch - 2007 - Routledge-Cavendish.
Norms, Institutions, and Institutional Facts.N. MacCormick - 1998 - Law and Philosophy 17 (3):301-345.
Credit Accessibility and Corporate Social Responsibility in Financial Institutions: The Case of Microfinance.Francesc Prior & Antonio Argandoña - 2009 - Business Ethics 18 (4):349-363.
Geoffrey Vickers: Philosopher of Responsibility.Garrath Williams - 2005 - Systems Research and Behavioral Science 22 (4):291-8.
Does Global Business Have a Responsibility to Promote Just Institutions?Nien-Hê Hsieh - 2009 - Business Ethics Quarterly 19 (2):251-273.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads39 ( #129,037 of 2,152,270 )
Recent downloads (6 months)6 ( #119,679 of 2,152,270 )
How can I increase my downloads?