From Moral to Political Responsibility in a Globalized Age

Richard John Beardsworth

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Responsibility for the provision of global public goods is generally couched in moral terms: terms that, to one side of the important moral argument, signal the deficit of global collective action despite recent engagements in the normative concept of ‘sovereignty as responsibility’. In this context the paper seeks greater emphasis, in morally informed reflection on world politics, on political responsibility. The argument is made in two steps. The paper considers first the specificity of moral responsibility and the inextricability of moral and political interest in international relations. Having situated both with regard to the decision-making structures of national government, the paper argues, second, for a normative reconfiguration of political duty in terms of task-efficacy, republican legitimacy, and political leadership. As a result, a badly needed marriage between national priorities and global threats and challenges is made possible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-92
Number of pages22
JournalEthics and International Affairs
Issue number1
Early online date23 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2015


  • moral responsibility
  • political responsibility
  • national interest and cession of sovereignty
  • political leadership and republicanism


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