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"Infrastructures of responsibility": the moral tasks of institutions

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"Infrastructures of responsibility" : the moral tasks of institutions. / Williams, Garrath.

In: Journal of Applied Philosophy, Vol. 23, No. 2, 05.2006, p. 207-221.

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Williams, Garrath. / "Infrastructures of responsibility" : the moral tasks of institutions. In: Journal of Applied Philosophy. 2006 ; Vol. 23, No. 2. pp. 207-221.

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@article{e3311c0d71284e62b83bf8ce45c147cd,
title = "{"}Infrastructures of responsibility{"}: the moral tasks of institutions",
abstract = "The members of any functioning modern society live their lives amid complex networks of overlapping institutions. Apart from the major political institutions of law and government, however, much normative political theory seems to regard this institutional fabric as largely a pragmatic convenience. This paper contests this assumption by reflecting on how institutions both constrain and enable spheres of effective action and responsibility. In this way a society{\^a}��s institutional fabric constitutes, in Samuel Scheffler{\^a}��s phrase, an infrastructure of responsibility. The paper discusses three key normative aspects of this infrastructure. First, institutions define roles and rules, alongside forms of sanction and encouragement, so as to realise limited forms of practical, normative agreement. Second, institutions allocate and adjudicate distinct responsibilities. This creates separate spheres of initiative, ensuring responsibilities are fulfilled and providing for structured disagreement and change. Third, because we move through a plurality of institutions and associations, we experience varying responsibilities and forms of recognition. Individual identities thus depend on several different forms of recognition, and are well placed to resist totalising or fundamentalist temptations. In sum, the paper argues that a liberal institutional fabric provides essential moral stability, though not an undesirable fixity. By containing the fragility and dangers of individual moral judgment, our institutional fabric allows such judgment to play a valuable role in human affairs.",
keywords = "Responsibility, institutions, liberalism, pluralism, role, moral judgment",
author = "Garrath Williams",
year = "2006",
month = "5",
doi = "10.1111/j.1468-5930.2006.00330.x",
language = "English",
volume = "23",
pages = "207--221",
journal = "Journal of Applied Philosophy",
issn = "0264-3758",
publisher = "Carfax Publishing Ltd.",
number = "2",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - "Infrastructures of responsibility"

T2 - the moral tasks of institutions

AU - Williams, Garrath

PY - 2006/5

Y1 - 2006/5

N2 - The members of any functioning modern society live their lives amid complex networks of overlapping institutions. Apart from the major political institutions of law and government, however, much normative political theory seems to regard this institutional fabric as largely a pragmatic convenience. This paper contests this assumption by reflecting on how institutions both constrain and enable spheres of effective action and responsibility. In this way a society�s institutional fabric constitutes, in Samuel Scheffler�s phrase, an infrastructure of responsibility. The paper discusses three key normative aspects of this infrastructure. First, institutions define roles and rules, alongside forms of sanction and encouragement, so as to realise limited forms of practical, normative agreement. Second, institutions allocate and adjudicate distinct responsibilities. This creates separate spheres of initiative, ensuring responsibilities are fulfilled and providing for structured disagreement and change. Third, because we move through a plurality of institutions and associations, we experience varying responsibilities and forms of recognition. Individual identities thus depend on several different forms of recognition, and are well placed to resist totalising or fundamentalist temptations. In sum, the paper argues that a liberal institutional fabric provides essential moral stability, though not an undesirable fixity. By containing the fragility and dangers of individual moral judgment, our institutional fabric allows such judgment to play a valuable role in human affairs.

AB - The members of any functioning modern society live their lives amid complex networks of overlapping institutions. Apart from the major political institutions of law and government, however, much normative political theory seems to regard this institutional fabric as largely a pragmatic convenience. This paper contests this assumption by reflecting on how institutions both constrain and enable spheres of effective action and responsibility. In this way a society�s institutional fabric constitutes, in Samuel Scheffler�s phrase, an infrastructure of responsibility. The paper discusses three key normative aspects of this infrastructure. First, institutions define roles and rules, alongside forms of sanction and encouragement, so as to realise limited forms of practical, normative agreement. Second, institutions allocate and adjudicate distinct responsibilities. This creates separate spheres of initiative, ensuring responsibilities are fulfilled and providing for structured disagreement and change. Third, because we move through a plurality of institutions and associations, we experience varying responsibilities and forms of recognition. Individual identities thus depend on several different forms of recognition, and are well placed to resist totalising or fundamentalist temptations. In sum, the paper argues that a liberal institutional fabric provides essential moral stability, though not an undesirable fixity. By containing the fragility and dangers of individual moral judgment, our institutional fabric allows such judgment to play a valuable role in human affairs.

KW - Responsibility

KW - institutions

KW - liberalism

KW - pluralism

KW - role

KW - moral judgment

U2 - 10.1111/j.1468-5930.2006.00330.x

DO - 10.1111/j.1468-5930.2006.00330.x

M3 - Journal article

VL - 23

SP - 207

EP - 221

JO - Journal of Applied Philosophy

JF - Journal of Applied Philosophy

SN - 0264-3758

IS - 2

ER -