None of my business: Why corporations should assume responsibility for structural injustice and why they do not
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Human rights violations are a common by-product of complex global economic structures. These violations should be understood as manifestations of structural injustice. Structural injustice occurs when societal processes construct structures that leave groups or individuals vulnerable to domination and deprivation. The traditional understanding of responsibility, which requires a causal link between an action or omission and a harm, is too narrow to assign responsibility for such circumstances. Therefore, a complementary account to assign responsibility for structural injustice is necessary. Iris Marion Young with her social connection model and various other authors try to provide such an account. While assigning responsibility to corporations that go beyond ensuring that they do not violate human rights themselves, these approaches are not demanding enough: they make it too easy for corporations to shed responsibility and facilitate strategies to deny responsibility. These shortcomings can be explained with reference to three reasons: the understanding that corporations’ primary role is to maximise private profits (ideology); the human inclination to put priority on closer relationships, on the immediate future, and on harms they directly cause in their normative reasoning (motivation); and indeterminacies about how ideal and just structures would look like, how to get there, and who should do what (collaboration).
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