The Collectivist Approach to Collective Moral Responsibility

Seumas Miller, Pekka Makela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


In this article we critique the collectivist approach to collective moral responsibility. According to philosophers of a collectivist persuasion, a central notion of collective moral responsibility is moral responsibility assigned to a collective as a single entity. In our critique, we proceed by way of discussing the accounts and arguments of three prominent representatives of the collectivist approach with respect to collective responsibility: Margaret Gilbert, Russell Hardin, and Philip Pettit. Our aims are mainly critical; however, this should not be taken to imply that we do not ourselves support an alternative account of collective responsibility. We advocate an individualist account of collective responsibility. On this view of collective responsibility as joint responsibility, collective responsibility is ascribed to individuals. Each member of the group is individually morally responsible for the outcome of the joint action, but each is individually responsible jointly with the others.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)634-651
Number of pages18
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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