Duty to Respond

Mass Crime, Denial, and Collective Responsibility
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Publication date: 
228 pages

The subject of the book is responsibility for collective crime. Collective crime is an act committed by a significant number of the members of a group, in the name of all members of that group, with the support of the majority of group members, and against individuals targeted on the basis of their belonging to a different group.

The central claim is that all members of the group in whose name collective crime is committed share responsibility for it. This book’s special interest is with analytical and normative defense of arguments that purport to explain reasons for, and the character of, responsibility of decent people. Those who did not intend, support, or committed wrong, are still accountable in a non-vicarious manner. The basis of their responsibility is the crime-specific relationship between group identity and personal identity.


Chapter 1
Criminal Regime, its Subjects, and Collective Crime
1. The Challenge of the Disturbing Past
2. Regime and its subjects: regime crime and collective crime
2.1. Regime crimes
2.2. Collective crimes
The preparation of collective crime
Criminal action
Approving outcomes of crime

Chapter Two
Politics of Silence and Denial
1. Introduction
2. Transitional justice or just the transition? Politics of silence
2.1. General argument: vulnerability of democracy
2.2. Specific arguments
a) Political reconciliation in the name of protecting the genuine common identity
b) Injustice
c) Unmasterable burden
3. ‘We did nothing wrong’: politics of denial
4. A summary

Chapter Three
Culture, Knowledge, and Collective Crime: Reading Relativism
1. Introduction: Crime-specific culture
2. Moral relativism as a philosophical argument
3. Blaming Culture for Moral Confusion?
3.1. Collective crime as a normative practice
3.2. Inability thesis
3.2.1. Supporting inability thesis: psychology of obedience to authority
3.2.2. Supporting inability thesis: on the political production of culture
4. The inability thesis as the authenticity thesis: on ‘broken thermometers’, ‘genuine beliefs’, and mass crimes
4.1. Richard Arneson on moral inequality and responsibility
4.2. Michael Zimmerman and the debate on ‘excusing the inexcusable’
5. Gilbert Harman on the non-moral character of extreme intentions

Chapter 4
Moral Responsibility for Collective Crime
1. Conceptualizing Moral Responsibility
1.1. A preliminary definition
1.2. Responsibility as a relationship
2. What are social groups and how they matter
2.1. The challenge of methodological individualism
2.2. Group structure
2.3. Solidarity through time
2.4. Collective action: relational and positional
3. Collective moral responsibility
3.1. The question
3.2. Responsible agency and the autonomy objection. Can the idea of extended participation provide an answer?
3.3. Two causal reasons for collective moral responsibility
a) Intention
b) Participation
3.4. An identity-based reason for collective moral responsibility
4. Collective moral responsibility beyond causality and blame
4.1. Group-specific identities created by crime
a) Victims
b) On the side of criminals: agents, by-standers, decent persons
4.2. Ideological justification of collective crime and how it affects morally decent persons
4.3. Solidarity, taint, and responses
a) Solidarity revisited
b) Moral taint
c) Two forms of collective responsibility

List of References