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Complicity: Individual Responsibility in Collective Contexts

Project description

Shedding light on individual accountability in systemic harms

There are many systemic harms that are caused and upheld collectively such as in the example of climate change. They are usually unintended and cannot be stopped even with unilateral action. One of the key questions of systemic harms is whether individuals can be held responsible for causing or even upholding them, or if the responsibility should remain with a collective. Examining this, the EU-funded CIRICC project aims to examine how individuals can be held responsible for collectively caused systemic harms. It will further investigate the ways –and also when– a collective should be held responsible.


"The project ""Complicity: Individual Responsibility in Collective Contexts"" (CIRICC) sets out to explain how and in what ways individuals can be held responsible for systemic harms caused by collective action. The three objectives are to 1) elucidate the concept of collective responsibility, to 2) offer the first in-depth theory of how being a constituent of an unstructured collective can affect our moral agency, and to 3) create a new methodology for looking at how ignorance and knowledge affect our responsibility in collective settings.

These objectives give rise to three research themes, each represented by an overarching research question: (RT1) What is collective responsibility? (RT2) How can an individual be responsible for systemic harms and wrongs? (RT3) How do ignorance and knowledge affect our social norms and our responsibility in collective settings? For added practical relevance, these questions will be discussed through three cases studies that draw from complex real-life cases. These are which agents have a responsibility to take action on climate change mitigation, consumer complicity for the use of sweatshop labour in the global supply chains, and the impact of media corporations on certain harmful social norms. CIRICC will advance research in these areas through four peer-reviewed articles and a book proposal, as well as a two-day international workshop on individual responsibility and collective harms.



Net EU contribution
€ 189 973,44
Yliopistonkatu 3
00014 Helsingin yliopisto

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Manner-Suomi Helsinki-Uusimaa Helsinki-Uusimaa
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Partners (1)