The essay theorizes the responsibilities moral agents may be said to have in relation to global structural social processes that have unjust consequences. How ought moral agents, whether individual or institutional, conceptualize their responsibilities in relation to global injustice? I propose a model of responsibility from social connection as an interpretation of obligations of justice arising from structural social processes. I use the example of justice in transnational processes of production, distribution and marketing of clothing to illustrate operations of structural social processes that extend widely across regions of the world.
The social connection model of responsibility says that all agents who
contribute by their actions to the structural processes that produce
injustice have responsibilities to work to remedy these injustices. I
distinguish this model from a more standard model of responsibility, which
I call a liability model. I specify five features of the social connection
model of responsibility that distinguish it from the liability model: it
does not isolate perpetrators; it judges background conditions of action;
it is more forward looking than backward looking; its responsibility is
essentially shared; and it can be discharged only through collective
action. The final section of the essay begins to articulate parameters of
reasoning that agents can use for thinking about their own action in
relation to structural injustice.
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