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By Toni Erskine

Can associations (in the experience of formal firms) endure tasks and be ascribed blame within the comparable approach that we comprehend person people to be morally answerable for activities? the belief of the "institutional ethical agent" is seriously tested within the guise of states, transnational organizations, the UN, NATO and foreign society within the context of a few of the main severe and debated concerns and occasions in diplomacy, together with the Kosovo crusade, improvement reduction, and genocide in Rwanda.

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Extra resources for Can Institutions Have Responsibilities?: Collective Moral Agency and International Relations (Global Issues)

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In proposing this argument, I am relying on a distinction between the ‘corporate’ and ‘collective’ character of groups. 2 The corporate character of the state is what helps to determine its character as a moral agent. Second, making sense of the state’s agency also requires some engagement with the mechanism on which most modern political activity has come to depend; that is, the mechanism of representation. It is precisely because it is so hard to understand modern state action as a form of collective action that states need representatives to act for them.

Another version was published in Ethics & International Affairs, XV 2 (2001) 67–85. I am very grateful to Onora O’Neill for thought-provoking discussions that helped me to formulate this argument and to Chris Brown for his helpful responses to an earlier draft. I am also indebted to all of the other Cambridge workshop participants and to the anonymous reviewers and the editors of Ethics & International Affairs for their challenging and constructive comments. This research was made possible by a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship.

I will make a qualified claim that they can. Nevertheless, addressing the points at which the quasistate seems to resist classification as an institutional moral agent is a useful exercise. If the institutional moral agent is defined as possessing an identity that is both independent of the identities of its constitutive parts and exists over time, the tendency of quasi-states not only to be burdened with unstable and quickly changing governments, but also to have their fortunes rest on the merits (or demerits) of individual leaders is potentially problematic.

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