The Journal of Ethics

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 179–198 | Cite as

Collective Responsibility

  • Jan Narveson


The basic bearer of responsibility is individuals, because that isall there are – nothing else can literally be the bearer of fullresponsibility. Claims about group responsibility therefore needanalysis. This would be impossible if all actions must be understoodas ones that could be performed whether or not anyone else exists.Individuals often act by virtue of membership in certain groups;often such membership bears a causal role in our behavior, andsometimes people act deliberately in order to promote the prospectsof members of a given group. Nevertheless, it is rational to awardproportionally to individual contributions to those actions andindividual shares in the production of the consequences of thoseactions.

ascription collective freedom of association group rights individual indivisibility irreducibility membershi ownership participation responsibility voluntariness 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Narveson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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