Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (5):995-1010 (2015)

David J. Zoller
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
While it is well recognized that many everyday consumer behaviors, such as purchases of sweatshop goods, come at a cost to the global poor, it has proven difficult to argue that even knowing, repeat contributors are somehow morally complicit in those outcomes. Some recent approaches contend that marginal contributions to distant harms are consequences that consumers straightforwardly should have born in mind, which would make consumers seem reckless or negligent. Critics reasonably reply that the bad luck that my innocent purchase contributes distantly to harm provides insufficient grounds for moral blame; moreover, such distant and seemingly inevitable collective effects are not by themselves obvious reasons for agents to refrain from acting. Granting these criticisms, I argue that the harm that agents do through knowing contributions to distant collective harm actually builds on the morally sparse agential phenomenology of everyday purchases and decisions: contributors who knowingly disregard distant harms, rather than being reckless or negligent about consequences they should have foreseen, very directly perpetuate the moral invisibility and the lack of recognition from which the global poor generally suffer. This provides agents with clearer moral reasons to refrain from knowing participation in unstructured collective harms, and clearer reason to bear them in mind in acting
Keywords Collective  Responsibility  Complicity  Individual  Guilt  Phenomenology  Collective Responsibility
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DOI 10.1007/s10677-015-9568-6
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References found in this work BETA

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
World Poverty and Human Rights.Thomas Pogge - 2002 - Ethics and International Affairs 19 (1):1-7.
Responsibility for Justice.Iris Marion Young - 2011 - Oxford University Press USA.

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Causing Global Warming.Mattias Gunnemyr - 2019 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (2):399-424.
Collective Responsibility.Marion Smiley - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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