Individual Versus Collective Responsibility: It Takes a Village

  • Thomas J. MiceliEmail author


This chapter considers the link between individual responsibility and punishment. Although such a link would seem to be an essential aspect of any morally acceptable theory of criminal punishment, it is the case that in ancient times, collective responsibility was a common practice, as exemplified by retaliation of victims and their sympathizers against an offender’s family or community. Even today, some vestiges of that ethic are evident in tort doctrines like vicarious liability and joint and several liability. This chapter explores the possible justifications for this practice within the context of the economic theories laid out in prior chapters with emphasis both on explaining the historical trend away from collective responsibility, and in seeking to understand why some examples of its use persist today.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of ConnecticutStorrs MansfieldUSA

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