Sharing Responsibility

Un libro in lingua di Larry May edito da Univ of Chicago Pr, 1993

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Is moral responsibility limited only to the consequences of overt individual actions? Or are individuals also responsible for attitudes, inaction, and the consequences of actions taken by their communities?
In this original work, Larry May argues that even when they do not directly participate, people share responsibility for various harms perpetrated by their communities. A robust theory of responsibility, May holds, must pay heed to the makeup of the self as well as to actions: not only "what we do," but in a larger sense, "who we are."
Taking as its point of departure some of the insights of Hannah Arendt, May's analysis confronts mainstream theories of responsibility with the ideas of continental philosophers who demanded that specific human experience provide the grounding for philosophy. May relies here on the work of Karl Jaspers and the later Sartre concerning the self as a social construct - an interplay of history, social conditioning, and the chosen behavior of the individual. Arguing against "the retreat from responsibility" espoused by many continental and analytic moral theorists, he contrasts his views both with those of communitarianism and with those of more classical moral philosophies.
May anchors his theories in concrete experience, especially the experience of victims of community oppression. In the first part of Sharing Responsibility, he argues for responsibility based on an individual's attitudes. Some attitudes, he asserts, are the products of quasi-conscious deliberation over which a person exerts at least partial control. He examines the case of racism, contending that those who harbor racist attitudes in a community in which acts of racial violence have occurred share responsibility for such harms.
May then focuses on responsibility for individual and collective inaction. He examines the phenomenon of diffused responsibility, citing the case of Kitty Genovese. Finally, May argues for group membership - including membership in professional associations like the American Philosophical Association - as an important source of heightened personal responsibility. By attacking the problems of racism and collective inaction with an expanded notion of moral negligence, May addresses timely issues of importance to modern society.

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