Normative Responsibilities: Structure and Sources

Chapter
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine book series (LIME, volume 69)

Abstract

Normative responsibilities have a central role in everyday moral thinking, largely because they are taken to ground requirements to act and react in certain ways. If parents are responsible for the wellbeing of their children, for example, this might mean that they are morally required to feed them, attend to their emotional needs, or make sure that someone else does. But normative responsibilities are not well understood as lists of requirements to act or react, for such requirements will depend on what options and information the agent has available. In the first part of the paper, we instead propose to understand normative responsibilities as requirements to care about what one is responsible for: about the wellbeing of one’s child, about performing a certain action, or about playing the sort of role that one’s profession requires. Such requirements, we argue, are just the sort of things that will give rise to requirements to act and react given the right context. In the second part, we survey and discuss a variety of considerations that might give rise to normative responsibilities: capacities and costs; retrospective and causal responsibility; benefits; promises, contracts and agreements; laws and norms; and roles and special relationships.

Keywords

Responsibility Normative responsibility Prospective responsibility Parental responsibility Moral requirements Moral obligations Role responsibility 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Umeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  2. 2.Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of ScienceUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden

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