My Brother’s Keeper: A New Phase in the Debate on Corporate Responsibility

  • Johan WempeEmail author
  • Willeke Slingerland
Part of the Ethical Economy book series (SEEP, volume 51)


In this article, we analyse whether it is possible to hold a loosely organised collective responsible for the effects it has on others. We consider the possibility of holding a loosely organised collective responsible by comparing it with a well-organised collective such as a corporation, a joint action (a collective lacking a formal organisation) and an aggregate. We explore the concept of responsibility of a loosely organised collective by analysing a concrete example: the responsibility of the major oil producers for climate change. We will argue that it is possible to apply the concept of responsibility to such loosely organised collectives. To understand this responsibility it is necessary to decouple the concept of responsibility from the concept of acting and to develop forward-looking (prospective) ethics. We will argue that individuals and organisations belonging to a loosely organised collective have a joint responsibility: to some extent, they are each other’s brother’s keeper.


Business Ethic Moral Responsibility Joint Action Corporate Responsibility Collective Responsibility 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.VU University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.School of Governance, Law & Urban DevelopmentSaxion University of Applied SciencesEnschedeThe Netherlands

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