2022 Abstracts Stage 2

How responsible can one be for one’s actions in the face of scale-atrocities

Hamish Briggs, 2022, Stage 2

My project explored how responsibility should be attributed to individuals in the face of large-scale atrocities.
In my project, I researched Hannah Arendt a German-born holocaust survivor and political philosopher who explored her idea of the ‘banality of evil’ and applied it to the case of Adolf Eichman a Nazi leader whose role was the transportation of political prisoners to the concentration camps.
The banality of evil is described by Arendt as this unique inability in her writings ‘Thinking and moral considerations’ where Arendt used this term to portray how normal people were able to commit evil acts challenging the traditional notion that inherently evil people commit evil crimes. Arendt holds great importance on intention due to this inability to think but still believes responsibility should be attributed to those who commit the act regardless of the intention behind the action. Other secondary sources on the banality of evil were used to fully put forward the argument this project provides, although an intention for action in the face of large-scale atrocities does hold importance responsibility should nevertheless be attributed to the individual who committed the act.
In the project, the Windrush scandal was used to portray how this banality of evil is present in all societies.
the project uses Kant’s categorical imperatives to provide other alternative ways of attributing responsibility to an individual in the face of large-scale atrocities.
The project uses Hans Jonas ‘The Imperative of Responsibility to assess the large-scale atrocity which is the deterioration of the natural world to prove how we must create new ethical imperatives to combat this unprecedented acceleration of industry and technology and how we all have a responsibility to do this.
Ultimately these sources are used in the project to argue that intention in an action holds great importance but it does not take away the responsibility which should be attributed to the individual who commits the act in a large-scale atrocity

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