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Title: Responsibility without guilt : a Youngian approach to responsibility for global injustice
Author: McKeown, M. C.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5366 1670
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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What responsibilities do individuals have in relation to global injustice? Iris Young argues that all agents “connected” to global structural injustice bear political responsibility, rather than moral responsibility; the difference being that political responsibility is non-blameworthy, shared and forward-looking, whereas moral responsibility entails blameworthiness, isolates particular agents for censure and is backward-looking. Thus, individuals are not guilty of wrongdoing but they bear responsibility for global injustice. Young’s argument is intuitively appealing and influential, however it is underdeveloped. In this thesis, I aim to develop Young’s account into a coherent theory of individuals’ responsibilities for global injustice, by reconstructing her core insights and critically developing the aspects that lack clarity and coherence. Young does not sufficiently distinguish political from moral responsibility. In Part One, I argue that there are two kinds of moral responsibility: relational moral responsibility, which refers to the traditional account of directly causing harm with intent and knowledge – what Young calls the “liability model” of responsibility; and moral responsibility as virtue, of which political responsibility is a particular kind. I strengthen Young’s argument that ordinary individuals cannot bear relational moral responsibility for global injustice, because they perpetuate structural injustice inadvertently, unintentionally or unavoidably, but that they should cultivate the virtue of political responsibility to participate in collective action for change. Young conceives of political responsibility as a responsibility for justice. In Part Two, I assess this claim. For Young, individuals’ behaviour reproduces unjust social-structural processes, thus individuals have a responsibility for justice. I contrast this to Rawlsian “dualism”, whereby responsibility for justice is institutional. I characterize sweatshop labour as a form of global structural exploitation. Political responsibility is triggered by “connection” to such an injustice, which I define as the reproduction of unjust structures or dependency on oppression.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available