Group Responsibility

In Dana Nelkin & Derk Pereboom (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Moral Responsibility. Oxford: Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Are groups ever capable of bearing responsibility, over and above their individual members? This chapter discusses and defends the view that certain organized collectives – namely, those that qualify as group moral agents – can be held responsible for their actions, and that group responsibility is not reducible to individual responsibility. The view has important implications. It supports the recognition of corporate civil and even criminal liability in our legal systems, and it suggests that, by recognizing group agents as loci of responsibility, we may be able to avoid “responsibility gaps” in some cases of collectively caused harms for which there is a shortfall of individual responsibility. The chapter further asks whether the view that certain groups are responsible agents commits us to the view that those groups should also be given rights of their own and gives a qualified negative answer.

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Christian List
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München

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