Joint responsibility in complex systems
In ethics and philosophy of law, a lot of work has been done on backward-looking responsibility, and there are commonly accepted criteria for when we should regard a certain actor as responsible for a certain action or outcome. It has been much less investigated how different agents in complex systems can share responsibility (“moral taint”, or the like) for outcomes they produce together. For example, how should moral responsibility be attributed and distributed in the case of “unstructured collective harms”, i.e. where many actors jointly cause significant harm, where no individual actor intends or can control the outcome, and when actions are uncoordinated, as in the case of climate change and other environmental harms?