Responsibility for Collective Inaction and the Knowledge Condition

Social Epistemology 30 (5-6):532-554 (2016)
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When confronted with especially complex ecological and social problems such as climate change, how are we to think about responsibility for collective inaction? Social and political philosophers have begun to consider the complexities of acting collectively with a view to creating more just and sustainable societies. Some have recently turned their attention to the question of whether more or less formally organized groups can ever be held morally responsible for not acting collectively, or else for not organizing themselves into groups capable of so doing. In this paper I argue that several questionable assumptions have shaped the character and scope of inquiry to this point, precluding us from grappling with a range of important questions concerning the epistemic dimensions of collective inaction. I offer an overview of recent conversation concerning collective inaction, advance a critique of the picture of responsibility that has emerged from this conversation, and propose an alternative approach to th...
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