Personal Responsibility: Why It Matters

Overview

Personal responsibility is now very much on the political agenda. But what is personal responsibility? Why do we care about it? And what, if anything, should governments do to promote it?

This book explores the idea that individuals bear a special responsibility for the success or failure of their own lives looking at philosophical theories, political ideologies, and public opinion on the subject. Alexander Brown lends support to a recent move in political philosophy to deal ...

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Overview

Personal responsibility is now very much on the political agenda. But what is personal responsibility? Why do we care about it? And what, if anything, should governments do to promote it?

This book explores the idea that individuals bear a special responsibility for the success or failure of their own lives looking at philosophical theories, political ideologies, and public opinion on the subject. Alexander Brown lends support to a recent move in political philosophy to deal with real world problems and shows how philosophy can contribute to public democratic debate on pressing issues of personal responsibility. Articulate, provocative, and stimulating, this timely book will make a significant contribution to one of the most important debates of our time.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781847063991
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury
  • Publication date: 11/30/2009
  • Series: Think Now Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,451,352
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Alexander Brown is a Teaching Fellow in Political Theory at the School of Public Policy, University College London, UK. He is the author of Ronald Dworkin's Theory of Equality (Forthcoming, Palgrave Macmillan).

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Introduction 1

Ch. 2 What is Personal Responsibility? 13

Ordinary language 13

Common conceptions 18

What do philosophers mean by 'responsibility'? 21

Personally responsible for what? 27

Ch. 3 What Do Philosophers Think? Part I 31

Causes 31

Capacity 33

Control 35

Choice versus brute luck 37

Second-order attitudes 40

Equality of opportunity 42

Deservingness 44

Reasonableness 45

Reciprocity 47

Equal shares 49

Combining criteria 51

Ch. 4 What Do Philosophers Think? Part II 58

Utility 59

Self-respect 60

Autonomy 63

Human flourishing 66

Natural duties and special obligations 69

A matter of perspectives? 70

Combining values 73

Ch. 5 What Do Politicians Think? 77

A brief typology 78

International comparisons 81

Welfare reform 84

Healthcare reform 92

Rights and responsibilities 96

On the responsibilities of politicians 106

Ch. 6 What Do Ordinary People Think? 112

Why ask? 113

Attitudes to welfare claimants 116

When push comes to shove 121

Perceptions and reality 124

Further international comparisons 127

The trouble with opinion surveys 130

Ch. 7 Four Contemporary Issues in Focus 133

Unemployment 133

Health 143

Drug abuse 147

Personal debt and financial rewards 152

Ch. 8 So How Do We Decide? 162

Getting the public involved 162

Citizens' juries 164

Answering some potential criticisms 174

Ch. 9 Conclusion 177

Notes 181

Bibliography 197

Index 210

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