Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 441–443 | Cite as

Bennett W. Helm: Communities of Respect – Grounding Responsibility, Authority, and Dignity

Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2017. Hardback (ISBN 978–0–19-880,186-3) 57.13€. 261 + x pp.
  • Olle BlombergEmail author

This book is concerned with what it is to be responsible for one’s actions and for who one is, and with what gives others the authority to hold one responsible for this. Following Peter Strawson, Helm argues that being responsible and holding responsible must be understood in the context of our reactive attitudes, such as resentment, indignation, guilt, and gratitude. In particular, Helm develops a theme that can be found submerged in Strawson’s Freedom and Resentment (1962), namely that the reactive attitudes are intimately connected to “our membership of human communities” and that there is cultural variability with respect to the patterns of these attitudes in different communities.

While Strawson’s main focus was on practices of holding others morally responsible and on an agent’s relationships to other members of their (the?) moral community, Helm instead focuses on local practices of holding others communally responsible—that is, holding them responsible quamembers of one’s...



I am indebted to Patricia Meindl, Alba Montes, Henning Nörenberg and Thomas Szanto for fruitful discussions.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, LUXLund UniversityLundSweden

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