A Critique of the Liberal Approach to Violence

  • Bhikhu Parekh
Part of the International Political Theory book series (IPoT)


This chapter argues that liberal individualism is unable to explain much of the violence going on in society and its members’ responsibility for it. Since liberalism concentrates on who did what and should be held responsible for the resulting consequences, which it is unable to do in a highly complex organisational context, it is led to argue that no identifiable individual and hence no one really can be blamed for the harm done to hundreds by multinational drug trials, suicides by desperate prisoners, and thousands killed in unnecessary wars. Since liberalism tends to define causality in terms of actively initiating a course of action, it is unable to take account of the consequences of an individual’s unwillingness to interrupt or arrest the course of action, and leads to a highly attenuated and untenable view of individual responsibility.


Negative action Violence Individual responsibility 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bhikhu Parekh
    • 1
  1. 1.Politics and International RelationsUniversity of HullHullUK

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