Duty to Respond

Duty to Respond: Mass Crime, Denial, and Collective Responsibility

Nenad Dimitrijevic
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 226
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  • Book Info
    Duty to Respond
    Book Description:

    The subject of the book is responsibility for collective crime. Collective crime is an act committed by a significant number of the members of a group, in the name of all members of that group, with the support of the majority of group members, and against individuals targeted on the basis of their belonging to a different group. The central claim is that all members of the group in whose name collective crime is committed share responsibility for it. This book’s special interest is with analytical and normative defense of arguments that purport to explain reasons for, and the character of, responsibility of decent people. Those who did not intend, support, or committed wrong, are still accountable in a non-vicarious manner. The basis of their responsibility is the crime-specific relationship between group identity and personal identity.

    eISBN: 978-615-5053-08-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    A disclaimer is due at the very beginning: the incentive for writing this book is non-academic. Its author is a member of a social group in whose name grave crimes were committed in the recent past. I am haunted by the ghosts of the innocent people who were killed in my name. This is perhaps one typical reaction to mass crime, experienced in different historical situations, by many people who share membership in a group with perpetrators of mass atrocities. Hannah Arendt famously dismissed this reaction as a “misplaced feeling [that] can only lead to a phony sentimentality in which...

  5. Chapter One The Criminal Regime, its Subjects, and Collective Crime
    (pp. 13-42)

    The central topic of this book is the distribution of responsibility among members of a social group in whose name mass crime was committed. Before addressing this question, a summary account of the criminal past is necessary.

    This chapter comprises two sections. Section one provides a sketchy summary of issues that will be addressed in more detail in the subsequent chapters. It outlines the relationship between the past and the present, and distinguishes between the types of legacies of the criminal past after the regime change. A preliminary claim is that these legacies affect major identity levels—individual, group-specific, and...

  6. Chapter Two Politics of Silence and Denial
    (pp. 43-84)

    What happened yesterday is unchangeable. No structure, relationship, or action from the past can be altered or revoked. Still, we often come across expressions like “coming to terms with,” “working off,” and “mastering” the past,¹ or, adversely, “closing the books,” “reaching forward instead of looking back,” and “letting bygones be bygones.” Such phrases denote different contemporary attitudes to the criminal past: after the regime change people disagree over the issue of whether the past has left legacies that matter today. Recall that the presence of legacies is seldom denied. As I argued in Chapter One, structures, actors and practices of...

  7. Chapter Three Culture, Knowledge, and Collective Crime: Reading Relativism
    (pp. 85-132)

    In Chapter Two I explored some typical arguments against authoritative dealing with collective crimes. Some of them are formulated as specific policy concerns. In some other arguments references to culture play a prominent part. Most of those who oppose dealing with the atrocious past would agree on the empirical insight that culture in transition is tainted by legacies not supportive of democracy: the culture is problematic; the problems are crime-specific. But rather than being taken as an incentive to act, post-criminal cultural uncertainties are interpreted as a basis for the political decision to limit transitional justice or to close the...

  8. Chapter Four Moral Responsibility for Collective Crime
    (pp. 133-196)

    In this chapter I will claim that dealing with collective crime in a morally proper way requires addressing the question of collective moral responsibility.

    The question can be formulated in the following way: is it right to inquire about the responsibility of all persons who belong to a group in whose name a crime has been committed? Or, alternatively, can we think of the responsibility of a group as a distinct agent? I will defend the first alternative: moral responsibility applies to all members of the group, and should be distributed (unequally) among them. I will try to explain and...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 197-206)
  10. Index
    (pp. 207-211)