Irresponsibility for Justice: Towards a Conception of Meta-Responsibility

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    • Presentation speakers
      • José Álvarez, Université Paris Descartes, France


    Iris M. Young in his late work, “Responsibility for Justice” (2011), gives an account of social phenomenons like housing deprivation, or some kinds of exploitation that, she claims, are the consequence of structural injustices. It seems that they are not the product of individual wrongful acts or of individual negligence but of something more complex; social processes with multiple factors, that the usual models of responsibility, that she calls liability models, are unable to grasp. She puts forward a different one, the social connexion model of responsibility. Young claims, following his model, that citizens that participated in a process, buying a product for example, that produces an injustice, an exploited worker, have a responsibility towards him even if the buyer is not guilty of the exploitation (this would be the case under the liability model which could be used to judge the factory owner, for example). So, she argues, we can explain why some citizens, the better off, have duties towards the worst off citizens of a society or towards poor people of other countries. The purpose of this paper is twofold: I will first try to show that Young’s ideas are not entirely sound and then I will try to think them over through Frazer’s concept of meta-political injustice in order to formulate a concept of meta-responsibility. I will begin this considerations by laying down some basic elements and assumptions concerning the situation of global poverty and by sketching two traditional views on responsibility. I will go forth and try to present Young’s model and then try to cast a shadow of doubt over it. Namely I’ll try to show that it’s hard to conceive the idea of a contribution with an injustice that does not supposes liability but that entails a positive duty. In the final section of the paper I’ll try to articulate Frazer’s idea of meta-injustice with the social connection model and thanks to this I might be able to claim that we can be hold responsible, as citizens, for our own irresponsibility, for the fact that we are able to contribute with injustice without being responsible for it.