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Title: Are individual citizens morally responsible for policy outcomes?
Author: Jensen, Morten Højer
ISNI:       0000 0004 6423 8413
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2017
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This project concerns one overall question: are individual citizens morally responsible for policy outcomes? The aim of this project is to answer this question, in order to resolve a tension between the commonly held ideal that policy outcomes represent the will of the people on the one hand, and a seeming reluctance to hold our fellow citizens morally responsible for these outcomes on the other. In order to resolve this tension, I examine various accounts of moral responsibility to see whether the individual citizen is responsible in light of these. I focus primarily on whether the individual can be morally responsible in light of her political participation via her voting action. Firstly, I examine whether the individual is morally responsible in light of her direct contribution to the voting outcome. I conclude that she is not, because she fails to make a relevant causal contribution. I then examine indirect accounts (mainly shared responsibility), i.e. accounts of moral responsibility which do not require that the individual makes a direct contribution. I ultimately show that none of the examined accounts are successful. Therefore, I develop an account which can be successfully applied, based on observations made throughout this project. Specifically, I argue that the individual can be morally responsible for policy outcomes, if she performs her unilateral part in constituting or sustaining the particular project which brings about the policy outcome. She does this – roughly – if she through her voting action was an interdependent part of the project that brought about the outcome. She is an interdependent part even in the event where she fails to make an actual contribution to the voting outcome and thus the policy outcome itself. Lastly, I apply this account to a high stakes just war scenario, and show that it explains our intuitions of responsibility.
Supervisor: Dow, Jamie Sponsor: IDEA CETL
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available