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Responsibility and Distributive Justice$
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Carl Knight and Zofia Stemplowska

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199565801

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199565801.001.0001

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Taking Up the Slack? Responsibility and Justice in Situations of Partial Compliance 1

Taking Up the Slack? Responsibility and Justice in Situations of Partial Compliance 1

(p.230) 11 Taking Up the Slack? Responsibility and Justice in Situations of Partial Compliance1
Responsibility and Distributive Justice

David Miller (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines what justice requires of agents who discharge their fair share of a collective responsibility to avert some harm, while others default. Relevant examples include multi-person rescue cases, and joint action by states to relieve global poverty or combat climate change. In such situations, must agents who are willing to comply also do more, by taking up the slack left by others, or are they permitted to do less than their fair share as originally defined? Having identified relevant factors that distinguish between different cases, the chapter argues that justice normally requires doing one's fair share, but not more than that. In the relevant sense of that term, responsibility for the harm that is not averted remains with the defaulters. In cases where the rights of those harmed are at stake, however, compliers may have a further humanitarian obligation to take up the slack.

Keywords:   justice, fairness, responsibility, rights, obligation, humanitarian, rescue, poverty, climate change

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