Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.668562
Title: Should citizens pay for the costs of their state's unjust actions? : defending an individualist moral responsibility-based account of liability
Author: Munro, Robert
ISNI:       0000 0004 5367 595X
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2015
Availability of Full Text:
Access through EThOS:
Access through Institution:
Abstract:
A state that violates international law incurs a duty to repair harms caused by its transgression. This will often require pecuniary compensation to be paid to injured parties. To discharge its reparative duty, the state will use public funds or increase taxation. Its reparative burden is, therefore, passed on to its citizens. When, if ever, is this morally justified? In this thesis, I defend an individualist moral responsibility-based account of liability against a number of objections and demonstrate that it can provide intuitively compelling and theoretically defensible answers to the question of whether a particular state’s citizens should pay for the costs of its unjust actions. In defending my account, I will reject an argument which holds that the moral responsibility-based account cannot assign liability for overdetermined harm. The argument runs as follows: no individual is causally responsible for an overdetermined harm; causal responsibility is a necessary condition of moral responsibility; and moral responsibility is a necessary condition of liability. I deny the possibility of overdetermination, and I argue that the appearance of overdetermination simply reflects a lack of sufficiently fine-grained evidence. This presents us with a problem – we do not know who is culpably morally responsible for the harm. If we do not know who is culpably morally responsible for the harm then we do not know who is liable for the harm. I argue, however, that individuals can render themselves liable for a harm by culpably depriving its victim, or someone acting on her behalf, evidence of the identities of the persons liable for the harm. These arguments underpin my defence of the capacity of an individualist moral responsibility-based account of liability to explain when citizens should pay for their state’s unjust actions. I defend my argument against some other important objections, but I also reject an alternative approach to explaining whether citizens should pay for the costs of their state’s unjust actions. I call this the ‘Collectivisation Strategy’. Its proponents believe it capable of avoiding the numerous problems that are said to besiege an individualist moral responsibility-based account of liability. This alternative account conceives of the state as a corporate moral agent, and it holds that the state, qua corporate moral agent, can be liable for unjust harm. The key to its success, however, is explaining when and why the state, so conceived, is justified in imposing shares of its liability-burdens on its citizens. I consider and reject two such justifications. Having rejected these alternative accounts, and by overcoming the arguments made against individualist moral responsibility-based accounts, I demonstrate that my account is intuitively compelling and theoretically defensible, and can tell us whether particular a state’s citizens should pay for the costs of its unjust actions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.668562  DOI: Not available
Share: