Larry May University of Chicago Press, 1992 Library of Congress BJ1451.M36 1992 | Dewey Decimal 170
Are individuals responsible for the consequences of actions taken by their community? What about their community's inaction or its attitudes? In this innovative book, Larry May departs from the traditional Western view that moral responsibility is limited to the consequences of overt individual action. Drawing on the insights of Arendt, Jaspers, and Sartre, he argues that even when individuals are not direct participants, they share responsibility for various harms perpetrated by their communities.
Larry May argues that socially responsive individuals need not be self-sacrificing or overly conscientious. According to May, a person's integrity and moral responsibility are shaped and limited not just by conscience but also by socialization and moral support from the communities to which he or she belongs.
Applying his theory of responsibility to professional ethics, May contends that current methods of professional socialization should be changed so that professionals are not expected to ignore considerations of personal well-being, family, or community. For instance, lawyers should not place client loyalty above concerns for the common good; doctors should not place the physical well-being of patients above their mental and spiritual well-being; scientists and engineers should not feel obliged to blow the whistle on fraud and corruption unless their professional groups protect them from retaliation.
This book should prove provocative reading for philosophers, political scientists, social theorists, professionals of many stripes, and ethicists.