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Cooperative actions and state responsibility

Researchers used political philosophy and experimental economics to understand and predict international cooperation.
Cooperative actions and state responsibility
The EU-funded project MICBS (Modeling international cooperation between states) outlined the conditions under which international cooperation between states is made more and less likely. The researchers began by asking to what extent states possess the necessary tools for cooperative action. They investigated the largest group of persons possessing collective agency within the legal/political territory of the state.

Once they established where exactly influential power lies in the state, they began to consider cooperative interactions between members. From there, roles and responsibilities were considered. Included in this work was defining what states’ obligations mean for members (citizens, nationals), including differentiating between a large-scale collective obligation and the individual constituents’ obligations which together comprise it.

Results included an interdisciplinary literature review, engagement with scholars, three papers published in peer-reviewed journals and the workings of one book manuscript. Domestic and international travel helped to present work, receive feedback and disseminate findings.

In the manuscript, an uncommon position is taken compared to current discussions about responsibility for states’ actions, which commonly accept that states are collective agents with citizens as members. The results have also been disseminated at conferences.

Through international travel the MICBS team built networks and collaborations with international researchers in philosophy and other disciplines. The work serves to advance academic debates over collective agency for groups like nation states regarding responsibility for the actions of agents and over climate change negotiations and climate ethics between states. In turn, this has social implications such as reducing global greenhouse emissions. Existing connections to universities in Australia and New Zealand were maintained and new connections were formed in universities in the United States.

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Life Sciences


Political philosophy, experimental economics, international cooperation, MICBS, collective agency
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