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Can Institutions Have Responsibilities?

Collective Moral Agency and International Relations

Can Institutions Have Responsibilities? by Toni Erskine
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Policy-makers, politicians, academics and the 'average person on the street' all tend to speak of formal organizations such as states, the UN and multinational corporations as bearing moral reponsibilities in international politics. We often refer to such bodies as having obligations to rescue, to feed or to provide membership to distant victims of, for example, violence, famine or persecution. If they fail to discharge these proposed duties, we condemn them. Can we coherently refer to institutions in international politics as bearers of moral burdens, or does moral agency only apply to individual human beings? As assumptions and assertions of duty and blame play such a prominent role in international politics - in supporting policies, condemning and condoning actions and placating publics - it is an important endeavour to question, clarify and perhaps correct these claims. Can Institutions have Responsibilities? aims to address and critically engage with this often implicitly invoked but under-theorized notion of institutions as bearers of moral burdens in international politics.
Palgrave Macmillan; November 2003
255 pages; ISBN 9781403938466
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Title: Can Institutions Have Responsibilities?
Author: Toni Erskine
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