, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 151-156
Date: 07 Dec 2006

Complicity beyond Causality

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What does it mean to claim that a person is complicit in the actions of another? And is the relation between principal and accomplice a core or paradigm form of participatory liability? These issues are central to legal, political and moral responsibility, and there is much in Gardner’s discussion of the concept of complicity that illuminates our understanding of these and related questions. Notwithstanding this, I have also to confess that I found his argument somewhat elusive. First, it seems to me that beginning with the quotation from Solzhenitsyn, and reading it in the way that he does, sets somewhat artificial limits on the content of complicity. He uses this to argue that the ‘true’ form of complicity is where an accomplice causes a principal to act, and other forms of contribution to wrongdoing are thereby excluded. What is distinctive about the accomplice, he argues, is that she makes a difference to the actions of the principal. While this may be a morally sustainable positio ...