Justice and Responsibility
36 Pages Posted: 9 May 2005 Last revised: 25 Jul 2008
I argue that institutions charged with giving justice must understand responsibility in terms of norms governing what people are entitled to expect of each other. On this conception, the sort of responsibility that is of interest to private law or distributive justice is not a relation between a person and the consequence, but rather a relation between persons with respect to consequences. As a result, nonrelational facts about a person's actions and the circumstances in which she performs them will never settle the questions of responsibility that matter to institutions charged with giving justice. I show the significance of this way of thinking about responsibility by contrasting it with prominent conceptions of responsibility which suppose that its moral significance derives from the ways in which an individual person acts in the world. I demonstrate its power by focussing on cases in which responsibility is widely agreed to run out in ways that non-relational conceptions of responsibility cannot explain.
Keywords: Responsibility, justice, reciprocity
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation