Volume 61, Issue 3, September 2021
The Ethical Concept of Responsibility in Levinas and Wojtyła
In this article I examine the ethical concept of responsibility as presented by Emmanuel Levinas and Karol Wojtyła. I focus throughout on questions pertaining to the relations between identity and alterity and between heteronomy and autonomy. To do so involves looking at the contrary roles that these two authors give to selfhood and freedom when accounting for our sense of obligation and responsibility toward others and toward ourselves. I then put Levinas’s phenomenological account of responsibility into dialogue with Wojtyła’s personalist account in an examination of the question of animal ethics. Specifically, I discuss the extent to which their ideas on our responsibilities toward others can be extended to the domain of non-human animals.