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Palgrave Macmillan

Group Responsibility

A Narrative Account

ISBN 9781137358653
Publication Date February 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

An African-American single mother is harassed and threatened with violence until she moves out of an all 'white' neighborhood. A hate crime has occurred and we wonder, who is responsible? Is it just the few people who actively threatened the woman and her children, or does responsibility extend further? This book explores these questions in detail and ultimately finds that responsibility may extend far beyond active perpetrators.

Within philosophy, these kinds of questions are typically discussed in the debate over 'collective' or 'group' responsibility. This book reviews the debate and examines the standard objections to group responsibility. It also evaluates some currently available accounts but finds them unsatisfying in various ways. Ultimately, drawing on work in social psychology, narrative ethics, and feminist philosophy, the author presents a new account which answers the standard objections while also giving practical guidance to individuals who take their group-related responsibilities seriously.

Cassie Striblen is an assistant professor of Philosophy at West Chester University near Philadelphia. She has published on group responsibility with the Journal of Social Philosophy and Social Theory and Practice. Before entering academia, Dr. Striblen taught public school in New Orleans and served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Kazakhstan.

Introduction: The Problem of 'Collective' or 'Group' Responsibility
1. Locating Questions of Group Responsibility: A Troubling Case
2. Developing an Alternative Approach: A Lesson from Social Psychology
3. Defining Identity Groups: The Importance of Narrative
4. Broadening Participation: Arendt and May on Shared Responsibility
5. A Narrative Account of Shared Responsibility
Conclusion: Extending the Narrative Account
Works Cited


Since World War II philosophers and others have sporadically and not altogether successfully wrestled with the moral problem presented by group responsibility for such atrocities as the Holocaust, 'ethnic cleansing,' racial violence and other great harms. Skillfully and selectively discussing the merits and serious drawbacks of some of the key contributions to this debate, Cassie Striblen defends a plausible yet demanding account of shared responsibility among members of the 'white' identity group based on insights from social psychology and narrative theory. Her new and subtle proposal should do much to bring serious discussion of group responsibility back into focus and sets a new standard for future debate on the topic. – Lawrence Jost, University of Cincinnati, USA
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