Toni Erskine (Aberystwyth)
Questions of moral agency are fundamental to world politics. Who – or what – can bear the related moral burdens of duty and blame for specific acts and outcomes has serious implications for both theory and practice. Politicians, policy-makers, citizens and scholars alike endeavour to identify and assign, and sometimes deny or deflect, obligations to respond to crises such as famine, environmental degradation, genocide, and financial collapse. We also apportion blame – for acts and omissions that contribute to these crises and for failure to address them adequately. Problematically, however, these calls to action, claims to duty, and cries of condemnation often precede consideration of the bodies capable of responding. In this paper, I will argue that such prescriptions and evaluations should be directed towards those formal organizations with sophisticated, integrated capacities for deliberation and action (such as most states, multinational corporations, and, sometimes, the United Nations), as well as towards individual human actors. In short, an account of what I call ‘institutional moral agency’ is necessary in order to speak coherently about world politics.
Discussant: Ariel Colonomos (CNRS-CERI)
CERI (salle du rez-de-chaussée)