March 2008
Journal of International Political Theory;Mar2008, Vol. 4 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
In international politics, institutions – in the sense of formal organisations – are frequently portrayed as important bearers of duties and appropriate objects of blame. This makes eminent sense. Many states, multinational corporations, and intergovernmental organisations, to name a few types of institutional actor, have considerable capacities to respond to crises, address injustices – and, indeed, cause harm on a grand scale. When the United States (US), for example, is widely charged with a moral obligation to combat climate change, and held to account for failing to take this responsibility seriously enough, such talk of duty and blame at the corporate level of the state is intuitively compelling. Simply put, individual human actors on their own lack the power, coordination and resources to achieve the outcomes (be they remedial or noxious) open to many institutions. The US, in contrast (and relative to many other states), has a significant capacity to redress large-scale environmental problems and has contributed to them disproportionately. Moral responsibilities at the corporate level should follow – as should blame and charges of ‘delinquency’ if these are not met.


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