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Title: Taking Ownership: A New Framework for Consumer Responsibility
Authors: Parker, Kevin
Advisors: Smith, Michael
Department: Philosophy
Class Year: 2020
Abstract: Existing frameworks for consumer responsibility are at the moment insufficient. Some practical ethical theories give only a negative framework—things for which the company is responsible, leaving little to the consumer. Other general responsibility frameworks are often skeptical of the human capacity to know what they bring about, or desire things that society evaluates as permissible. This framework bridges the gap, starting with a theory of human responsibility and moving to its practical application in consumption behavior. The discussion begins with a basic definition of actions, responsibility and control, in order to explain when agents are in a strong sense responsible for the effects of a purchase of theirs. The use of a “strong” sense is necessary because the argument seeks to discern when sanctioning behavior, or the adverse treatment of agents who do wrong, is justified. The argument concludes that so long as agents have the capacity to know what they can affect by purchasing and they have the capacity to desire desirable outcomes, that one is justified in sanctioning an agent when their purchase has bad effects. This conclusion motivates a call for two further discussions. First, how can agents empower themselves by learning what they can and do bring about? Second, how agents can affect their capacity for knowledge by demanding social and political change?
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Philosophy, 1924-2020

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