Dorothea Gädeke | 2021

Who should fight domination? Individual responsibility and structural injustice

in: Politics, Philosophy & Economics, Volume 20, Issue 2

Who is responsible for fighting domination? Answering this question, I argue, requires taking the structural dimension of domination seriously to avoid unwillingly reproducing domination in the name of justice. Having cast domination as a structural injustice that refers to structurally constituted positions of power and disempowerment, I show that the outcome-based, the capacity-based and the social connection model suggested in literature on responsibility, fail to fully meet this challenge. Drawing on insights from all of them, I propose an account that proves more sensitive towards the power dynamics at play in fighting domination. It is based on a fundamental duty of justice, which gives rise to two kinds of responsibility. Dominators, dominated and peripheral agents share political responsibility for domination in virtue of reproducing domination by occupying a position within structures of dominating power; they are required to acknowledge and undermine their position of power or disempowerment rather than simply using and thus tacitly reaffirming it. Political responsibility for domination is distinct from moral responsibility for acting within contexts of domination; in fact, ignoring this difference risks reproducing rather than transforming relations of domination. Bystanders who are not implicated in reproducing domination bear limited remedial responsibility to support this struggle.

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