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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 38, Issue 4, October 2012

Jessica Payson
Pages 645-662
DOI: 10.5840/soctheorpract201238435

Individuals, Institutions, and Structures
Agents of Political Responsibilities in Cohen, Pogge, and Young

In this essay I argue that Iris Marion Young provides a substantially new model of responsibility that provides a way out of the standard debate regarding whether and the extent to which individuals have responsibilities for justice. This debate, best represented in an exchange of essays between G.A. Cohen and Thomas Pogge, hinges on the causal efficacy of the bearers of responsibility for justice. By distinguishing herself from both Cohen’s individualism and Pogge’s institutionalism, Young provides an enhanced way to conceptualize the responsibilities that individuals have towards justice in a nonideal world in which they have limited causal impact.

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