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Responsibility Incorporated Philip Pettit. The Herald of Free Enterprise Sinking in Zeebrugge 1987. P&O Ferries Sheen report: ‘the body corporate was.

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Presentation on theme: "Responsibility Incorporated Philip Pettit. The Herald of Free Enterprise Sinking in Zeebrugge 1987. P&O Ferries Sheen report: ‘the body corporate was."— Presentation transcript:

1 Responsibility Incorporated Philip Pettit

2 The Herald of Free Enterprise Sinking in Zeebrugge P&O Ferries Sheen report: ‘the body corporate was infected with the disease of sloppiness’. A prosecution for corporate manslaughter is brought but fails in court. Reason: no sufficiently senior member of the management was ‘reckless’.

3 The thesis Corporate agencies can be autonomously responsible for what they do. In that case, the members of the agency will inherit member responsibility. But none may have a corresponding degree of enactor responsibility. There may be a discontinuity in place.

4 Plan Introduction Three conditions of responsibility. Main body Corporate bodies can satisfy each. Conclusion A discontinuity between corporate and enactor responsibility is possible.

5 Conditions of responsibility Agent-plus-choice: An agent, X, faced a choice between significant options. Judgment-plus-evidence: X had normal judgmental capacity and access to evidence on the nature of the choice. Control-plus-reason: X was in control of which option to take and could reason about the pros and cons of each.

6 Agency-plus-choice 1 Agency-plus-choice. The corporate entity was organized for agency and faced a significant choice between doing something good or bad, right or wrong. Let an organization count as an agent and it will surely face significant choices. So the focus is on the agency claim

7 Agency-plus-choice 2 Agency requires: Goals Representations Goal-directed, representation-guided acts These may emerge spontaneously or with the help of normative representations as to what is rational or desirable

8 Agency-plus-choice 3 Group agency will materialize iff — Members endorse a constitution for: identifying shared goals; identifying shared representations; enacting suitably supported initiatives. They will go individually off-line in order to embody this new intentional center.

9 Agency-plus-choice 4 Standard corporate entities are like this, be they participatory or hierarchical. They include churches, town meetings, companies, associations, etc. They contrast with non-agential groups: co-active, like a market or traffic jam; or joint-active, like a choir or team.

10 Judgment-plus-evidence 1 Judgment-plus-evidence. The corporate entity exercised a capacity for judgment and had access to evidence that the relevant options, with their merits and demerits, were available. Again, the second component is not a problem, if the first is in place. So the focus is on the capacity for judgment.

11 Judgment-plus-evidence 2 Suppose the organization has a constitution or routine for the making of judgments. And suppose this can generate evidentially sensitive and internally consistent judgments. The organization will have the capacity required but will its judgments allow for a discontinuity of responsibility?

12 Judgment-plus-evidence 3 The constitution might be dictatorial, allowing one member or group to dictate judgments. This would be like Hobbes’s monarchy. Did such a constitution shape judgment, then everything would be enactor-driven. There would be no discontinuity likely between corporate & enactor responsibility.

13 Judgment-plus-evidence 4 But dictatorial arrangements are unusual in ruling out such discontinuity. With other constitutions, corporate and individual judgments may come apart. This is because of the cost in responsiveness-to-individual-judgments of consistency. The discursive dilemma gives the key idea.

14 Judgment-plus-evidence 5 p?q?p&q? ANoYesNo BYesNoNo CYesYesYes MajorityYesYesNo.

15 Judgment-plus-evidence 6 Research? Teaching? Tenure? ANoYesNo BYesNoNo CYesYesYes MajorityYesYesNo.

16 Judgment-plus-evidence 7 The A-B-C group, if it is to behave as an agent, will have to reject the majority on p, q, or p&q. Analogy with the advisee of experts; there is no avoiding his or her ‘own judgment’. This result is supported by impossibility results on judgment-aggregation.

17 Judgment-plus-evidence 8 List-Pettit 2002, generalized in Dietrich-List: For connected issues, a procedure that i) delivers consistent judgments, ii) no matter what the inputs, and iii) depends on the inputs of more than one cannot iv) deliver judgments with a systematic relationship to the judgments of members. Thus i & ii & iii ==> not-iv.

18 Judgment-plus-evidence 9 How will a corporate body make judgments and be sure of consistency, as required? It will have to generate them other than by reliance on any systematic derivation, issue by issue, from the judgments of individuals. Many possibilities. A-B-C might straw vote and then decide; or let ‘premises’ dictate; or give someone right to decide difficulty....

19 Control-plus-reason 1 Control-plus-reason. The corporate body was in control of which option to take and had the capacity to reason about the pros and cons of each. Again there is no problem with the second part of the condition. So the focus is on the first. Can a corporate body control what it does in the required sense?

20 Control-plus-reason 2 It may seem, not. Whenever a group acts, it acts through one or another representative or enactor. But this means that what is done will be done by that enactor, who is an intentional agent. ‘Corporations don’t commit crimes; people do’. Or so it may seem.

21 Control-plus-reason 3 Whenever a group acts, it acts through one or another representative or enactor. Perhaps control is lost ‘out front’ to enactors, as it would be lost ‘out back’ to a dictator. As we put aside the ‘out back’ threat, so we must be able to put aside the ‘out front’ one.

22 Control-plus-reason 4 That an enactor is in control does not rule out the complementary control of the organization. The enactors control for the fact that it is they who act; they could refuse. The organization controls for the fact that someone acts; the presence of an enactor is more or less ensured.

23 Control-plus-reason 5 Imagine a closed flask of water which is brought to the boil and cracks. The boiling ‘programs’ for the cracking, a particular molecule ‘produces’ it. The constitution of a corporate body may ‘program’ for a deed even when the act is individually ‘produced’.

24 Control-plus-reason 6 The organization is not just the container of the constitution; it virtually controls it. Thus the organization is in control of anything for which the constitution programs. And it is equally in control of anything for which the constitution fails to program.

25 The responsibility gap 1 The corporate body, being an agent, acts on its judgments, controlling for its actions. And the judgments formed, as well as the control exercised, are properly its own. Thus there is room to hold a corporate body autonomously responsible. And there may also be reason to do this.

26 The responsibility gap 2 The reason for recognizing this responsibility is that enactor and corporate responsibility may easily come apart from each other. The Herald of Free Enterprise case. In a case like this people combine to do something bad when enactor responsibility is low. And their organization is responsible.

27 The responsibility gap 3 Danger? Effective? Bearable?Pay-sacrifice? A. No Yes Yes (No) B. YesNo Yes (No) C. YesYes No (No) G. Yes Yes Yes ==> Yes. WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR SACRIFICING PAY? THE GROUP AS A WHOLE.

28 The responsibility gap 4 Dennis Thompson and others have written of the problem of many hands. This example shows that there is also a problem of ‘no hands’ or ‘few hands’. To deal with such cases we need autonomous corporate responsibility and this allows for a discontinuity with the responsibility of enactors.

29 The responsibility gap 5 Q.E.D.


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