Readers Write In #600: Moral Responsibility in Choices

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By Deepika Santana Krishnan

Group decision-making is a controversial topic in economics. More controversial than the ability to make and analyze choices made within a group is how to hold group members morally accountable for the (undesirable) consequences of their decisions. . Considering this, he has two kinds of arguments in the economics community. Some argue that even if the group as a whole should be held accountable for the results, no individual member can be held accountable.this problem without hands. Second, many of the individual members, though subgroups may be, are morally responsible and therefore collectively responsible for bad outcomes.this A problem in the hands of many. And economists conclude that which of the two is appropriate depends on the case at hand.

However, moral philosophers have a different view on this issue. To stimulate their perspective, (Braham and Hees, 2012) take the example of the famous ‘tragedy of the commons’ game in game theory. The game looks like this: There are ‘n’ peasants in the village, they have a common pasture, and all the peasants have cows to graze. Every farmer knows that the more pasture their cows graze, the more milk they produce and consequently the more income they make. However, if all farmers do this, the fertility of the land will decrease and ultimately the productive capacity of the land will be exploited. When such scenarios occur, economists often blame ‘marginal’ farmers, those who have turned fertile land into exploited land. in the margin. So economists blame the man on the frontier and those who followed him in using the land, taking moral responsibility for the disastrous consequences. They let go of the men who were pasturing the cattle before this little man came in.

Moral philosophers condemn all those who have not acted for the betterment of society, and if they have acted in a particular way that would otherwise not ruin the land, those individuals should each be morally responsible. The last sentence is a little heavy on the explanation, but loosely (Braham and Hees, 2012) we call this the NESS test. In this test, if the individual had taken action, the outcome would not have been disastrous without that action. If a result is obtained, but the agent still does not take that action, the individual should be held morally responsible. The implications of their behavior are broader than how economists model the game, and behavior is not just whether or not to graze, and how much to graze, but what In that farmers also need the effort they can take to build consensus among themselves, such as informational posters that can be posted near pastures.

In terms of assessing the behavior of individual farmers, we now turn to the topic of how to account for moral responsibility in individual choices. (Binder and Hees, 2015) describe the “agency paradox”. This means that even if the agency has reasonable utility in maximizing the consumer and chooses the best possible course of action, it may not be able to hold the consumer accountable.bad result[1]To circumvent this problem, they used the characterization “never choose the uniquely largest” (Baigent and Gaertner, 1996). [2]This element states that if the purpose of a rational agent is to select the sub-optimal element from his budget set, in many cases he may be able to explain moral responsibility for his actions. I’m here. Exceptions are: difficult choice. If a mother is held at gunpoint and asked to kill either her son or daughter, she has only two options. [3], the choices she undertook cannot be said to hold her morally responsible for the consequences. In that case, they conclude that the characterization “never chooses the uniquely largest” can be used to indicate the poor quality of the selection sets faced by the agent.

What is common to the consequences of individual and collective moral responsibility is that individuals, and therefore moral responsibility, can be accounted for when there are rational alternatives to choose from. These studies can be used collectively, for example, when teams of officials representing different countries meet to discuss climate change issues, or when school parents and teachers discuss the educational outcomes of their children. It sheds light on how decisions are made. Although these examples exemplify the role of individual and collective relationships in explaining moral responsibility, one wonders what Pranesh Acharya will do when he reaches Durvasapura. increase. Because he is an individual and ponders his role in his society. Conversely, he represents a society that contemplates the role of the individual.


[1] Their work assumes that there is a one-to-one relationship between actions and consequences, and that the agent performing the action knows for sure what the consequences of his action will be.

[2] By forcing the agent to make a suboptimal choice, you are essentially giving the agent a (reasonable) choice to choose from.

[3] That’s her budget, to be precise.


Baigent and Gaertner (1996), “Don’t choose the single biggest: Characterization”.

Binder and Heath (2015), Moral Responsibility in Individual Choices.

Braham and Hees (2012), Anatomy of Moral Responsibility.

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