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Responsibility and Justice Paperback – Mar 26 2007


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Review

"This book gives a clear account of the problem that growing doubtsabout responsibility present for some practises of justice to whichwe are deeply committed. It also suggests a novel way ofapproaching that problem without attempting to explain it away. Istrongly recommend it to anyone interested in these issues."
Politics

"Since the 1980s, an appeal to an inexamined notion of personalresponsibility has increasingly driven public policy, usually in apunitive direction. At the same time, philosophers have beenworrying about the problem that, if human actions arise fromnatural causes, it may be mistaken to hold anybody responsible foranything. Matt Matravers explains the course of the philosophicaldebate about this extremely lucidly, but his great achievement isto show how the philosophers' worries bear on the way in which weshould think about policy questions. The discussion is subtle, butalways easy to follow."

Brian Barry, Emeritus Professor, Columbia University andLondon School of Economics

 

"Matravers provides a stimulating introduction to the complexmodern debates about free will and responsibility, on which hegrounds an illuminating and provocative argument about thesignificance of those debates for our practices of distributive andretributive justice. Students will come to understand howtheoretically and normatively problematic those practices are.Theorists and practitioners already familiar with the issuesdiscussed will be challenged to articulate a philosophicallydefensible conception of responsibility that could structure moremorally adequate social, legal and political practices."

Antony Duff, University of Stirling

 

"This short but ambitious book will provide an excellentadvanced introduction to some of the most important debates inmoral, legal and political philosophy and an important contributionto debates about redistribution and retribution that extend beyondthe academy. Matravers’s conclusions are challenging butimportant. This book should be widely read."

Paul Kelly, London School of Economics

Book Description

In this lively and accessible book, Matt Matravers considers the role of responsibility in politics, morality, and the law. In recent years, responsibility has taken a central place in our lives. In politics, both Tony Blair and George W Bush claim that individual responsibility is at the centre of their policy agendas. In morality and the law, it seems just that people should be rewarded or punished only for things for which they are responsible. Yet, responsibility is a hotly contested concept. Some philosophers claim that responsibility is impossible, whilst others insist on both its possibility and importance. This debate has become increasingly technical in the philosophical literature, but it is seldom connected to our practices of politics and the law. Matravers asks, 'what are we doing when we hold people responsible in deciding questions of distributive justice or of punishment?'. By addressing this question, he not only shows how philosophy can help in thinking about current political and legal controversies, but also how we can keep hold of the idea of responsibility in an age in which we are increasingly impressed by the roles of genetics and environment in shaping us and our characters. This book will be of interest to all students of political theory and philosophy.

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