Socialism vs collectivism


Our consumerist lifestyle has grave climatic and environmental consequences because it takes place in immensely populous societies in which innumerable individual agents together cause these consequences. The causal impact of each agent upon the climate and environment thereby becomes unnoticeable or imperceptible. Consequently, the causally-based responsibility of each agent is diluted to the point of becoming negligible. It follows that the causally-based conception of responsibility carries the peculiar implication that individuals could eschew responsibility for the production of some harmful effect by joining up with a sufficient number of other agents to produce it. This is surely objectionable. Imagine that several agents join forces and cause Vic's death by each giving him such a small dose of a drug that by itself is not harmful. Then, if each of them is aware of what the others are doing, it is arguable that each of them is as responsible for Vie's death as they would have been had they caused it single-handedly. They are as responsible in the former case because they have intentionally caused Vic's death by joining up with similarly motivated agents instead of by single-handedly applying some other means, such as a large dose of the drug. It would be absurd to claim, as the notion of causally-based responsibility allows us to do, that each of them is only responsible for giving Vic a harmless dose of the drug, which might not be wrong at all.

- Persson and Savalescu, Unfit for the Future

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