Responsibility beyond the Human?

  • Rosine Kelz
Part of the International Political Theory Series book series (IPoT)


Anthropocentrism has played an important role in shaping western notions of ethical responsibility. To interrogate this connection between concepts of the human and morality, this chapter critically considers the notion of community as the space within which ethical encounters with others take place. Theories that imagine such encounters within an egalitarian political community often tend to overlook the roles foreignness and irreducible alterity play in moral thought. This also appears to be the case with Cavell when he theorises otherness against a background of shared linguistic, cultural, or emotional ties. My critique, however, does not dismiss the importance of the concept of community for our understanding of responsibility altogether. As the notion of welcoming the other implies, community can also be understood as constituted by an ethical demand. Community, from its Latin root com-munus, is then understood as a shared duty or responsibility, where our responsibility for others creates connectivity. Here connection does not follow from similarity or affinity, but is understood as an ethical and political relation established between beings who remain unequal, separate, and foreign to each other. This chapter thus sets out to determine how far ‘ethical connectivity’ could reach, if it could go beyond the human, and whether the idea of community remains useful for ethical thought.


Ethical Responsibility Human Community Human Existence Human Form Moral Experience 
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Copyright information

© Rosine Kelz 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rosine Kelz
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Visual ArtsNew YorkUSA

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