Responsibility for Human Suffering: Awareness, Participation, and the Frontiers of Tort Law
37 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2009
Date Written: March 1993
Disagreements over responsibility for human suffering frequently stern from disparate understandings of what it means to be responsible. In such disputes, parties often talk past one another. They do not simply disagree; rather, they fail to communicate meaningfully. This essay examines two distinct notions of responsibility and how they shape different ways people think about injustice.
This essay attempts to clarify these distinct understandings of responsibility and employ them to illuminate current conflicts in political discourse and tort law. Part I examines in detail the paradigms of awareness and participation. Part II offers examples of how the disparity between the paradigms often leads to miscommunication in contemporary disagreements about moral responsibility for various forms of human suffering. Part III considers how this conflict of paradigms manifests itself in tort doctrine.
Keywords: tort law, responsibility
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