By Toni Erskine
Can associations, within the feel of formal organisations, be thought of prone to ethical burdens? The members to this booklet severely learn the assumption of the 'collective' or 'institutional' ethical agent in, inter alia , the guise of states, transnational companies, the UN and foreign society. The viability of treating those entities as bearers of ethical duties is explored within the context of a few of the main serious and debated matters and occasions in diplomacy, together with the genocide in Rwanda, improvement relief, the Kosovo crusade and worldwide justice.
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17 I want to suggest a related criterion that is implicit in the way French requires agents to conceive of themselves as having an identity over time: to be candidates for moral agency, collectivities must be self-asserting. By this I do not mean that they must be self-aware or conscious. Rather, this criterion serves to stipulate that they cannot be merely externally defined, thereby disqualifying groups that do not see themselves as units. This is neither an exhaustive list of the features of French’s ‘conglomerate collectivity’, nor an endorsement of his overall argument.
Fundamental to this assertion is that many institutions enjoy greater capacities for deliberation and action than are enjoyed by individuals. 22 Indeed, institutions might promote great social goods or be guilty of grave transgressions that would simply be beyond the scope of individual actors. These capacities allow institutions to bear certain duties that could not be borne by any individual. States and quasi-states In addressing the moral responsibilities of institutions in international relations, one is faced with a multitude of actors to be considered.
I will make a qualified claim that they can. Nevertheless, addressing the points at which the quasistate seems to resist classification as an institutional moral agent is a useful exercise. If the institutional moral agent is defined as possessing an identity that is both independent of the identities of its constitutive parts and exists over time, the tendency of quasi-states not only to be burdened with unstable and quickly changing governments, but also to have their fortunes rest on the merits (or demerits) of individual leaders is potentially problematic.
Can Institutions Have Responsibilities?: Collective Moral Agency and International Relations by Toni Erskine