Journal of Applied Philosophy - Early View Articles

The Social Creation of Morality and Complicity in Collective Harms: A Kantian Account

Published online on Aug 02, 2018


This article considers the charge that citizens of developed societies are complicit in large‐scale harms, using climate destabilisation as its central example. It contends that we have yet to create a lived morality – a fabric of practices and institutions – that is adequate to our situation. As a result, we participate in systematic injustice, despite all good efforts and intentions. To make this case, the article draws on recent discussions of Kant's ethics and politics. Section  considers Tamar Schapiro's account of how otherwise decent actions can be corrupted by others’ betrayals, and hence fall into complicity. Section  turns to discussions by Christine Korsgaard and Lucy Allais, which highlight how people can be left without innocent choices if shared frameworks of interaction do not instantiate core ideals. Section  brings these ideas together in order to make sense of the charge of complicity in grave collective harms, and addresses some worries that the idea of unavoidable complicity may raise.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

10.1111/japp.12334 About DOI

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