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Göteborgs universitets publikationer

Sharing Responsibility for the Future

Författare och institution:
Gunnar Björnsson (Institutionen för filosofi, lingvistik och vetenskapsteori)
Publicerad i:
MANCEPT 2011, Forward-Looking Collective Responsibility,
Konferensbidrag, övrigt
Sammanfattning (abstract):
Attributions of shared prospective moral responsibility are legion in folk morality. It is often said that it is the responsibility of right-minded citizens to vote bad politicians out of office or the responsibility of rich nations to stop global warming. In many such cases, some or all of the parties sharing the responsibility lack the power to ensure the object of responsibility, either on their own or in coordinated action with the others: the object is a major event and individual agents can at most slightly influence its timing or scope, and not always for the better. Apparently, then, the opportunity for individual difference-making is not required. Nor, it seems from some cases, is the possibility of coordinated action or social identification: even agents unaware of each other’s existence can share prospective responsibility. The phenomenon of shared responsibility raises a number of questions. The most general questions concern (i) how the parties need to be related to the object of responsibility, given that they need not have any meaningful influence over that object, and (ii) how they need to be related to each other, given that they need not stand in any special social relations or have the opportunity to coordinate their actions. There is also room for sceptical worries about the very existence of shared prospective moral responsibility. Focusing on the fact that an agent really cannot make a difference to an outcome given what others do, we might lose the sense that the agent shares responsibility for ensuring or preventing that outcome. This suggest that intuitions of shared prospective responsibility without individual control might be illusory, evaporating when we pay sufficient attention to detail. Interestingly, the very same issues arise in the case of retrospective moral responsibility, i.e. moral responsibility for past events, and the plan of this paper is to expand a solution developed for the retrospective case to account for shared prospective responsibility. Schematically, what I have argued at length elsewhere is that an agent is responsible for a past event insofar as a suitable motivational structure of the agent is part of a significant normal explanation of the event. In the case of shared retrospective responsibility for an outcome, the outcome must be significantly explained by the fact that the sharing agents had the relevant sorts of motivational structures. This, I have argued, answers the central questions about shared retrospective moral responsibility, understanding such responsibility as (a) implicating the individual moral agents via their motivational structures, without (b) requiring the capacity for individual difference-making. In this paper, I argue that an analogous model accounts for prospective responsibility. I suggest that one or more agents have as their responsibility to bring about an effect insofar as, were they to have the sort of motivational dispositions that can be reasonably morally required, this would ensure, in normal ways, that they bring about the effect. Again, this implicates the individual agents without requiring individual difference-making. Moreover, I argue, it explains why this form of responsibility might seem illusory though it is as real as individual prospective responsibility. REFERENCES: Björnsson, G. (2011) Joint Responsibility without Individual Control. Forthcoming in Compatibilist Responsibility: Beyond Free Will and Determinism, eds. Jeroen van den Hoven, Ibo van de Poel and Nicole Vincent. Springer. Björnsson, G. & Persson, K. (2009) Judgments of Moral Responsibility: A Unified Account. Society for Philosophy and Psychology, 35th Annual Meeting 2009, Björnson, G & Persson, K (2011) The Explanatory Component of Moral Responsibility. Forthcoming Noûs
Ämne (baseras på Högskoleverkets indelning av forskningsämnen):
Filosofi, etik och religion ->
Filosofi ->
Praktisk filosofi
shared obligations, collective responsibility, shared responsibility, collective action
Postens nummer:
Posten skapad:
2012-01-06 13:01

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