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Most of us spend a fair amount of time trying to avoid responsibility. That's not too astounding. What is surprising, says Peter French, is that we tend to dodge the good variety as well as the bad.
"The problem for most of us, excepting moral masochists, is that responsibility does get doled," he writes. "The strategy is either not to be in the receiving line or to find a way to get as little dumped on one's plate as possible, to trade off to others as much as one can. Consequently, the responsibility barter game is probably the most common experience ordinary people have with morality."
In Responsibility Matters, French investigates a variety of matters relating to responsibility-from theoretical aspects and elements of the concept of responsibility to specific areas of application and general issues in moral theory. Unlike Kant and others who see responsibility as a necessary presupposition of practical life, he believes it is a set of practices that we use to describe and understand individual and social behavior.
Using examples from literature, film, and current events as well as traditional philosophical literature, he raises questions about responsibility in political, environmental, legal, medical, corporate, and military justice matters. He also covers other issues, including fate, innocence, power, control, and individual and group responsibility.
1. Principles of Responsibility Ascription and the Responsibility Barter Game
2. Responsibility, Retaliation, and Tit for Tat
3. Losing Innocence for the Sake of Responsibility
4. Fate and Responsibility
5. Time, Space, and Shame
6. Power, Control. and Group Situations: And Then There Were None?
7. The Responsibility of Inactive Fictive Groups for Great Social Problems
8. Hobbes and the Hobbits: A Short Excursion into British Literary Foundations for a Lesson in Political Responsibility
9. The Wasteland: Whose Responsibility?
10. Exorcising the Demon of Cultural Relativism
11. Moral Responsibility and Heroism
12. The Burke of a Mill
13. Law's Concept of Personhood: The Corporate and the Human Person
14. Better Off Unborn?
15. Faustian Bargains
16. Enforced Corporate Responsive Adjustment
17. The Responsibilities of Military Law, or How to Make Military Justice Just
18. Dinner with Auden