Moralresponsibility of citizens of the world is a controversial issue,where opponents and proponents present their arguments that are basedon different theories and concepts. Moral responsibility refers tothe status of deserving blame, punishment, or reward that is in linewith the moral obligation of an individual (Williams, 2014). In mostcases, the opponents of the idea that citizens of the world should beheld morally responsible base their arguments on the concept ofdeterminism, which holds that human actions are independent of theirown will. The proponents bases their arguments on the concept offree-will, which holds that human beings have the power to determinethe actions that they should take or avoid, which means that theyshould be held morally responsible for the actions that they decideto take (Williams, 2014). This paper will present an argument thatcitizens of the world should have moral responsibility.
Theconcept of moral agency holds that normal human beings are expectedto be responsible agents. Responsible agents are individuals as wellas groups of people that can be helps accountable in terms of beingpraised or blamed for their actions (Williams, 2014). This is foundedon three principles of moral agency that supports the idea that humanbeings are responsible citizens of the world, unlike any othercomponent of nature. First, human beings are expected to use theirfree will to sort out the type of moral values that should bepropagated from those that needs to be discarded in order to make theworld a better place for all components of nature. The free willdistinguishes human beings from other members of the universe, whichimplies that human beings have a moral responsibility to protect theentire universe.
Secondly,human beings have the capacity to take action on the basis ofspecific reasons. While explaining the reasons why active principlestend to be generous while the passive feelings are selfish Appiah(2006) stated that active principles are guided by reason,conscience, or the arbiter of human conduct. Human beings are theonly components of nature that are able to assess their actions andattach reasons for each action that they take. A rational moral agentdeliberate or take actions on the basis of principles, which isachieved through the process of self assessment. The concept ofreason has moral content, which indicates a failure of rationalitywhenever someone takes immoral actions, such as pursuing personalinterests at the expense of the happiness or the well-being of therest of the components of nature. Although a moral agent may not feelany inclination to consider the well-being of the components ofnature, the concept of reason tells them that they should andmotivate them to take account of others (Williams, 2014). Therefore,the fact that human beings can reason makes them responsible for thewell-being of the entire universe and its components.
Thethird principle of moral agency holds that human beings have a set ofmoral feelings that guide their actions and convince them about theirmoral responsibility. According to Appiah (2006) feelings and thoughthelp people respond to certain moral values and assume their moralresponsibilities. The capacity to feel guilt or shame help humanbeings take account of social penalties and engage in actions thatdemonstrate moral responsibility and encourage moral conduct in thesociety. Moral agents with desire that other people should possesssimilar feelings and adopt similar moral values, which implies thathuman beings have a moral responsibility to influence the society ina positive way. For example, people who feel pain when others sufferand demonstrate their kindness by helping them tend to encouragekindness in people who surround them (Appiah, 2006). This leads tothe respect of universal values of the society. Human beings have amoral responsibility to make the world a better place by spreadingthe right moral values. In essence, the fact that human beings areable to feel, make responses according to their feelings, andinfluence the moral conduct of others implies that they should beheld responsible for their actions.
Aperception that all communities of the world are global neighborhoodcan create the sense of moral responsibility by helping people seethe world as a home for everyone. The opponents of the idea of moralresponsibility often argue that each individual or a community hasits own culture, values, and needs, which trivializes the need touphold moral responsibility with the objective of making the world abetter place for each other. According to Appiah (2006) boundariesthat are established to separate nations and states should beconsidered to be morally irrelevant or historical accidents that donot have any rightful claim on the human conscience. All people canbe considered as numerous branches that come from a single family,where the universe is their state. To this end, all human beingsshould see themselves as part of the wider community of humans andfeel morally responsible for taking actions that maximize thehappiness of all people, including those that they do not know.
Allhuman beings have the moral responsibility to promote the perfectionof humanity and the well-being of each other since they are citizensof one state, that is, the universe. Based on this notion, Appiah(2006) identified two major strands that tend to intertwine whenexplaining the concept of cosmopolitanism. In the first strand, theconcept of cosmopolitanism is founded on the notion that eachindividual citizen of the universe has the moral obligation to eachof the rest of the citizens, and this responsibility stretches beyondthe close relatives. This explanation stems from the fact that allhuman beings are part of the global neighbors of each other. The neststrand makes it a moral responsibility of every human being to takehuman life seriously. People are different and they should be allowedto go their way, in spite of the fact that they have the moralresponsibility to mind the well-being of others.
Apartfrom being held morally responsible as individuals, human beings canstill be held responsible as a group. This is based on the concept ofcollective moral responsibility, which holds that certainarrangements can be used to address the widespread harm that isassociated with the actions of a group or a society (Risser, 2014).The components of collective moral responsibility are rooted in thewithin the fabric of each society and they are part of every sociallife. According to Risser (2014) there would be no recognition of thehuman society in the absence of the conception of the idea ofcollective moral responsibility. The responsibilities that are sharedby all human beings strengthen the notion of the human society or aglobal constituency, which actions affect the universe positively ornegatively (Appiah, 2006). Although critics hold that only individualagents can be held morally responsible, it is evident that theactions of individual members of the human society are not mutuallyexclusive. This implies that the actions of an individual person,whether morally wrong or right, contribute towards the well-being ofthe entire society or the universe. Therefore, collective moralresponsibility is an extension of individual responsibility, whichmeans that a larger group of people can still be held responsiblewhen their actions results in a widespread harm.
Althoughthe idea that citizens of the would need to have moral responsibilityis still controversial, it is evident that all human beings have thepower to make decisions and should be help morally responsible forthose actions. Human beings, unlike other components of nature havethe free-will that allows them to select the type of moral valuesthat they should adopt. Since human beings make deliberate actionswithout being coerced, they should have the moral responsibility toproceed with those actions and assume the outcome of their actions.In addition, human beings have the capacity to reason and evaluatetheir decisions, even before making decisions. This implies thathuman beings are rational agents that only take action after givingthem a thought. Moreover, human beings are guided by their feelingswhen making decisions. These feelings help human beings select valuesthat they intend to live by. Therefore, all human beings have themoral responsibility to enhance the well-being of other people andother components of nature since they are the most advanced citizensof the universe.
Theidea of moral responsibility is quite controversial, where one campapplies the idea of determinism to argue that human actions aredetermined by forces that that beyond their control. Those who upholdthe concept of determinism believe that human beings have no moralresponsibility. The other camp applies the idea of free-will, whichholds that all human actions are deliberate, which means that humanbeings should be morally responsible for their actions as well as theconsequences of those actions.
Humanbeings are moral agencies that have the responsibility to propagatepositive values with the objective of making the world a betterliving place for all citizens. The fact that human beings have thefree will to take action without being forced implies that they canbe held responsible for their immoral actions. In addition, humanbeings are considered to be rational agents since they care reasonout and assess alternatives before taking actions. Moral agents areexpected to take the course of actions that are likely to enhance thehappiness of other citizens of the world. Moreover, human beingshave feelings that influence their decisions and help them to adoptvalues that are morally acceptable.
Humanbeings are global neighbors, which is based on the notion that all ofthem have the same origin and they have only been separated byimaginary boundaries. These boundaries have no moral relevance sincemoral values that guide the conduct of all members of the human raceare common. Additionally, all human beings are members of the commonhuman society, which means that they have a collective moralresponsibility to propagate positive moral values and enhance thewell being of other citizens of the world.
Appiah,K. (2006). :Ethics in the world of strangers.New York, NY: Norton & Company, Inc.
Risser,T. (2014). Collectivemoral responsibility.Middletown, PA: Penn State University Harrisburg.
Williams,G. (2014). Responsibility.Lancaster, LA: Lancaster University.