© 2019

Toward a New (Old) Theory of Responsibility: Moving beyond Accountability


Part of the SpringerBriefs in Ethics book series (BRIEFSETHIC)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-viii
  2. Daryl Koehn
    Pages 27-42
  3. Daryl Koehn
    Pages 43-60
  4. Daryl Koehn
    Pages 61-80
  5. Daryl Koehn
    Pages 81-89

About this book


This book offers a much needed overview of the neglected notion of responsibility.  Instead of offering vague talk about “individual responsibility” or “corporate responsibility,” Daryl Koehn examines in detail four accounts of responsibility, taking care to specify what responsibility does and does not mean in each account.  She argues for a return to the ancient concept of Socratic dialogical responsibility, a concept that avoids many of the problems inherent in the other accounts.  

After examining the Anglo-American criminal legal system’s treatment of responsibility as intentional agency, she critiques Hans Jonas’s concept of responsibility as ontological care and Hannah Arendt’s notion of communicative responsibility.  She provides a careful analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each approach to responsibility.  The final chapter makes the case for Socratic dialogical responsibility.  Dialogical responsibility has many strengths in its own right and avoids the major pitfalls of the other notions of responsibility examined in the book.  It serves as an eminently practical way to hold ourselves responsible for our actions and speech.   In addition, dialogical responsibility alone qualifies as a virtue integral to the good life. 


Why We Need Ethics Theory of Responsibility Care for the World Platonic Dialogical Responsibility Individual responsibility Corporate responsibility Anglo-American legal system concept of intentional responsibility Malicious intent Moral duty to care for the world Hans Jonas Hannah Arendt Dialogical responsibility Responsibility in the business sector Plato Criminal responsibility Evil behaviour Plato’s dialogues the Charmides and the Greater Hippias Live a life worth living Responsible for your actions

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyDePaul UniversityChicagoUSA

About the authors

Daryl Koehn is the Wicklander Chair in Professional Ethics at DePaul University. She has published widely in the fields of ethics and corporate governance. Her monographs include The Ground of Professional Ethics; The Nature of Evil; Rethinking Feminist Ethics; Local Insights, Global Ethics; and Living with the Dragon: Thinking and Acting Ethically in a World of Unintended Consequences. Edited volumes include Corporate Governance: Ethics across the Board and Ethics and Aesthetics in Business Ethics. In addition, she has published scores of articles in the Harvard Business Review, Business Ethics Quarterly, Journal of Business Ethics and numerous other journals. She consults regularly with major corporations and has served on a major corporation’s compliance committee. She has been profiled in Time magazine and has appeared often on National Public Radio, PBS TV stations and in other venues.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Toward a New (Old) Theory of Responsibility: Moving beyond Accountability
  • Authors Daryl Koehn
  • Series Title SpringerBriefs in Ethics
  • Series Abbreviated Title SpringerBriefs in Ethics
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Religion and Philosophy Philosophy and Religion (R0)
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-16736-3
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-16737-0
  • Series ISSN 2211-8101
  • Series E-ISSN 2211-811X
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages VIII, 89
  • Number of Illustrations 1 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Business Ethics
    Business Ethics
    Moral Philosophy
    Modern Philosophy
  • Buy this book on publisher's site