Collective responsibility and collective obligations without collective moral agents

In Saba Bazargan-Forward & Deborah Tollefsen (eds.), Handbook of Collective Responsibility. Routledge (forthcoming)
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It is commonplace to attribute obligations to φ or blameworthiness for φ-ing to groups even when no member has an obligation to φ or is individually blameworthy for not φ-ing. Such non-distributive attributions can seem problematic in cases where the group is not a moral agent in its own right. In response, it has been argued both that non-agential groups can have the capabilities requisite to have obligations of their own, and that group obligations can be understood in terms of moral demands on individual group members. It has also been suggested that members of groups can share responsibility for an outcome in virtue of being causally or socially connected to that outcome. This paper discusses the agency problem and argues that the most promising attempts at solutions understand group obligations and blameworthiness as grounded in demands on individual agents.

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Gunnar Björnsson
Stockholm University


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