Responsibility in Cases of Structural and Personal Complicity: A Phenomenological Analysis

The Monist 104 (2):224-237 (2021)
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In cases of complicity in one’s own unfreedom and in structural injustice, it initially appears that agents are only vicariously responsible for their complicity because of the roles circumstantial and constitutive luck play in bringing about their complicity. By drawing on work from the phenomenological tradition, this paper rejects this conclusion and argues for a new responsive sense of agency and responsibility in cases of complicity. Highlighting the explanatory role of stubbornness in cases of complicity, it is argued that although agents may only be vicariously responsible for becoming complicit, they can be held more directly responsible for entrenching their complicity. The complicit agent is responsible for their complicity to the extent that they fail to take responsibility for it.

Author's Profile

Charlotte Knowles
University of Groningen


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