Obligation and Blameworthiness in Non-agent Groups

ERI 149
Arts and Law, Lectures Talks and Workshops, Research
Wednesday 17th January 2018 (15:15-17:00)
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Philosophy Society Seminar Series 2017/18

  • Title: Obligation and Blameworthiness in Non-agent Groups
  • Speaker: Dr Stephanie Collins (University of Manchester)

Wednesday 17 January 2018, 15:15-17:00 in ERI 149. All welcome!

For more information please contact the convenor, Scott Sturgeon.


What's the moral status of groups that are not agents -- groups like 'carbon emitters', 'the international community', or 'upholders of patriarchy'? This paper will argue that groups that are not agents cannot have obligations, but that they can be blameworthy. This unlikely pair of conclusions arises because of the different functions that obligations and blameworthiness play in our moral and political practices. Obligations function as inputs into the practical deliberation of the entity that bears the obligation. Groups that are not agents cannot reason, so they cannot have obligations. By contrast, blameworthiness functions as a reflection of the esteem or disesteem with which others (should) hold the blameworthy entity. Non-group agent groups are -- sometimes -- appropriate objects of esteem or disesteem. I give conditions under which non-agent groups are irreducibly blameworthy.