a1 Department of International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK
Assigning responsibility is increasingly common in world politics, from the United Nation's assertion that sovereignty entails a ‘responsibility to protect’ to the International Criminal Court's attempts to hold individuals responsible for international crimes. This development is welcome but problematic as the model of moral agency that our contemporary practices of responsibility are based on leads to a number of problematic consequences that impede efforts to make world politics more just. In particular, our contemporary practices of responsibility are excessively focused on the obligations of individual and collective actors, at the expense of enabling conditions, and on holding specific perpetrators accountable, neglecting the need for wider social transformations in response to mass violence and suffering. Alternative understandings of moral agency, which better serve international/global practices of responsibility, are possible and here I defend an understanding of moral agency based on the philosophy of John Dewey. The critical insights and practical possibilities of this alternative understanding of moral agency are explored with reference to international interventions in Sierra Leone and Uganda.