Not In Their Name

Not In Their Name : Are Citizens Culpable For Their States' Actions?

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There are many actions that we attribute, at least colloquially, to states. Given their size and influence, states are able to inflict harm far beyond the reach of a single individual. But there is a great deal of unclarity about exactly who is implicated in that kind of harm, and how we should think about responsibility for it. It is a commonplace assumption that democratic publics both authorize and have control over what their states do; that their states act in
their name and on their behalf. In Not In Their Name, Holly Lawford-Smith approaches these questions from the perspective of social ontology, asking whether the state is a collective agent, and whether ordinary citizens are members of that agent. If it is, and they are, there's a clear case for
democratic collective culpability. She explores alternative conceptions of the state and of membership in the state; alternative conceptions of collective agency applied to the state; the normative implications of membership in the state; and both culpability (from the inside) and responsibility (from the outside) for what the state does. Ultimately, Lawford-Smith argues for the exculpation of ordinary citizens and the inculpation of those working in public services.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 208 pages
  • 145 x 219 x 17mm | 370g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0198833660
  • 9780198833666

Table of contents

1: Introduction
2: What is The State?
3: Is the Citizen-Inclusive State an Agent?
4: Is the Citizen-Exclusive State an Agent?
5: Citizens' Culpability & Responsibility for States' Actions
6: Governmental Culpability
7: Conclusion
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About Holly Lawford-Smith

Holly Lawford-Smith is a Senior Lecturer in Political Philosophy at the University of Melbourne. She obtained her BA and MA at the University of Otago, and her PhD at the Australian National University. Her first permanent position was at the University of Sheffield in the UK in 2012, and she moved back to Australia in 2017 to join the University of Melbourne. Her interests are in social philosophy broadly construed, with a particular focus on collective agency and
collective responsibility and their applications to climate change and the ethics of consumption.
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