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Responsibility is generally the ( voluntary ) acceptance of the obligation to answer for the possible consequences of an action and, if necessary, to be accountable for them or to accept punishments . It requires a sense of responsibility and awareness , a conscience and knowledge of values as well as legal regulations and social norms .

In Law which is term than that of an acting widely believed person or group of persons ( subjects ) and another person or group of persons ( object ) attributed duty defined, due to a normative arises claim defined by an instance may be claimed.

Actions and their consequences, depending on social practice and value system, can lead to consequences such as praise and blame, reward , punishment or demands for compensation for those responsible . The relation ( ratio ) between the involved actors linked in the result of the action of.

The social norms on which responsibility is based can have a legal , ideological or moral origin. However, responsibility can also be based on a self-chosen ideal as an only individually valid norm. However, in this case too, the claim to effects against other persons or institutions is tied. Because the concept of responsibility only makes sense when others are involved . In any case, the ascription of responsibility presupposes the assumption of freedom of action and an effective influence of the agent on the outcome of the action. Whether and to what extent such self-determination is given is controversial and is discussed critically in the Philosophy of Spirit . In that responsibility challenges justification, it is tied to justification and the reasoning of those involved. Due to its orientation towards norms and valuations, responsibility is also an ethical issue.

When a person is assigned responsibility for a specific task or permanent task, it is called accountability. While the basic relation of the concept of responsibility - someone is responsible for something in front of someone - is not very controversial, there is a multitude of opinions about the design of the individual dimensions of the term. Depending on the area of ​​application (e.g. in politics, economics, law, psychology), the term is assigned a special content. This applies both to the scope of responsibility and to the validity of the standards on the basis of which responsibility is assigned.

'The term "responsibility" is found to be at least three binary relation that Responsibility subject , Responsibility area and accountability instance linked. Now all three - instance, area and subject - have changed decisively in the history of modern secularization : God's place of responsibility is replaced by the totality of all reasonable beings in the present and future and possibly also the non-human nature, the area of ​​responsibility becomes around Amount of all new technologies expanded, especially those in which people are aware of a fundamental unpredictability of their consequences, which is closely related to the fundamental change in the subject of responsibility, which is quite obviously both limited to the individual and restricted to those actions for which it was consciously responsible, has to give up. "


The word responsibility is a noun formation from the verb responsible . The verb means first general answer , then, in particular, respond to court , answer a question , and finally stand up for something, represented something . In the latter case, in a reflexive sense, it has the meaning of justifying oneself .

The verb to answer got its specific character through a derivation , whereby the prefix ver has its own etymological history. The word responsibility can be found in the 12th century and the noun responsibility only in the 15th century.

The verb to be responsible comes from the Middle High German verandwürten with the original meaning to defend oneself as a defendant in court . Its occurrence is seen as a translation of the Latin resp. "Answer, give answer" from the Roman legal language , which found its way into English ( responsibility ).


On the concept of responsibility

In ancient times and in the Middle Ages, questions of responsibility under the terms of guilt and imputation ( imputation treated). The Frenchman Lucien Lévy-Bruhl wrote the first monograph on responsibility in 1884 : L'idee de responsabilité . The term only gained importance in the philosophical and moral discussion in the 20th century, and it became a key ethical term after the Second World War .

Responsibility is a concept of possibility. Necessity cannot be denied, impossibility cannot be fulfilled. The irrefutable and the impossible are beyond human decision-making and are therefore not subject to responsibility. Responsibility can have a future-oriented or a past-oriented meaning. The obligation to achieve a certain success in action or to meet the requirements of a certain task or role , such as B. the neutrality of a referee in sports or the learning success of the student through a teacher. The person in charge develops a sense of responsibility and takes responsibility for the foreseeable future. It is determined retrospectively who is responsible for the result of an action. The inventor is entitled to a patent, violations of standards can be punished. Retrospectively, you can only hold someone accountable if they were already responsible before the event for which they were responsible, i.e. prospectively. In this respect, the future and the past are only two sides of the same question of how man should act properly. Responsibility is thus a basic category of practical philosophy because it has to be taken into account in every form of action and the focus is on life practice. Responsibility is the supporting network of human practice, because when the good in action is questioned, responsibility is also called into question. If someone fundamentally refuses to accept standards of value for himself, he will also not accept the attribution of responsibility. According to Karl-Otto Apel , responsibility is a social institution to compensate for balance disorders. The category of responsibility serves to regulate social behavior and thus improve life together.

Responsibility can be imposed by social demands such as laws , religious commandments or moral norms. But responsibility can also arise voluntarily when someone takes on a task, e.g. B. is volunteering. Material responsibility of a voluntary nature also arises from the observance of promises , whether given orally, through a contract, guarantees or the like. This includes (social) responsibility towards people who are in need through no fault of their own. Even in the case of a voluntary commitment , it is common that the person concerned has to justify himself for the fulfillment of the task taken on. In any case, his conscience serves him as an instance of justification, whereby the norms which the conscience follows and their origin can be explained in various ways. The ability to justify oneself requires language. In this way, the category of responsibility becomes an anthropological characteristic of man: He is a “responsible being.” Responsibility is dialogical and requires a relationship to the world. “The full experience of responsibility requires the two basic relationships: to combine responsibility for one's own actions and responsibility for the world. Yes, the real practice of responsibility is in this specific association. "

Responsibility can lie with individuals, groups of people - for example, the fire brigade's fire brigade - or a society as a whole. Responsibility can be limited when actions are taken based on instructions. For the transferred responsibility, however, there remains a joint responsibility, which also extends to the success of a shared holistic responsibility. A bearer of responsibility must be able to understand and submit to the concept of responsibility. The executing agency must know and master the requirements for its responsibility and be able to assess the consequences of action. He needs experience and competence. In the case of institutions , which are gaining increasing importance in modern societies, they perceive the persons and bodies that represent them in a cooperative manner. The factual area of ​​responsibility extends to what the wearer can influence, which also includes the actions of other people who are subject to the influence of the wearer. The carrier has power over the object, which can be based on structures or a voluntary transfer, such as the captain of a ferry. Power can also be expressed in concern and care, as with parents of a child. The type and degree of responsibility is determined by the multitude of different social roles and fields of activity. Accordingly, the concept of responsibility is to be filled in with regard to the specific constellation . It is judged how someone fulfills their responsibility. The talk of “taking responsibility” contains two aspects of meaning: On the one hand, someone has to recognize how and to what extent he is responsible. On the other hand, he must also act in accordance with his insight, his perception, in order to assume his responsibility.

Georg Picht points out that the concept of responsibility has a surplus compared to liability . Liability means that recourse can also be made to a forced degree for one's duty . Conversely, when someone has a responsibility for a person or a task, his duty to care is indefinite and comprehensive. In this respect, responsibility cannot be restricted to a legal level. The term always has a moral connotation . Whoever bears responsibility cannot rely on formal regulations alone; he must also grasp and fulfill the spirit of the task. In this sense, responsibility also extends to attitudes and attitudes. While duty is limited to a unilateral claim, a hierarchical relationship, responsibility rests on an attitude that is reciprocal. Responsibility requires the consent of the carrier to assume this. When there is pure compulsion, one can only speak of duty. However, there is an asymmetry between the instance of justification and the bearer of responsibility in that the instance is not called into question. The person responsible is subject to the authority, whether forced or voluntary, possibly for better or worse.

When Kurt Bayertz the Note is that it is irrelevant in terms of the consequences from the perspective of the victim in violation of the responsibility if the action result was caused intentionally. The consequences are independent of motivation . For the acting subject and the question of culpable causation, i.e. also with regard to the assessment of responsibility by the victim, this is quite different according to Bayertz. “If the inner constitution of the acting subject is included in the consideration, a responsibility concept can develop , for which causal authorship is a necessary but not a sufficient condition of responsibility. ”There are tragic cases conceivable in which someone tries to fulfill his responsibility but fails because of the circumstances. Classic cases are the consequences of natural disasters .

The two adjectives responsible and responsible are associated with the concept of responsibility . Both have a slightly different field of meaning. Responsible has a more causal character, in which the cause and the resulting liability are particularly emphasized. Acting responsibly involves prudence and consideration. The person responsible endeavors to act appropriately, in which the interests and needs of those involved are adequately taken into account. The expression responsible , on the other hand , contains the element of the higher value or a special degree of difficulty of a responsibility that is transferred, or an appreciation of a special mindfulness with which a responsibility was fulfilled. The person who carries out a responsible task needs special skills to carry it out. A task is also responsible if it results in particularly serious negative consequences if it is not fulfilled. In such cases, someone with a responsibility may feel it is a burden .

The concept of guilt covers only part of the concept of responsibility. On the one hand, it is purely retrospectively related to action results that have already occurred. On the other hand, it presupposes a detectable violation of existing norms that someone was responsible for complying with. Guilt only arises when someone has not fulfilled his responsibility, although he could have acted differently. Then the justification of the action can no longer succeed. From a legal point of view, negligent or deliberate action is also required so that the offense of guilt applies. In a moral sense, a violation is said to be irresponsible if someone has not dealt with their responsibilities properly. This is often associated with a devaluation of the person. The accusation of irresponsible behavior is even stronger, which includes a conscious violation, at least a conscious acceptance of the consequences of the action, and considerable damage. Hans Jonas speaks of an “act of positive recklessness”.

A diffusion of responsibility is a situation in which the assignment of responsibility to a person responsible is avoided, in that all persons in question avoid responsibility. The word diffusion , borrowed from physics, indicates that this avoidance is not controlled, but is unregulated in a self-similar manner.

Types of responsibility

Morphological matrix of responsibility types according to Ropohl 1994
(A) Who (1) individual (2) corporation (3) Society
(B) What action product omission
(C) For what Foreseeable consequences Consequences unpredictable Long-term and long-term consequences
(D) Whatever moral rules social values state laws
(E) Before conscience Judgment of others dish
(F) When before: prospective currently afterwards: retrospectively
(G) How active virtual passive

Depending on the area of ​​application, various authors have drafted structural features that serve a deeper conceptual analysis. Wilhelm Weischedel divides it into social, religious and personal responsibility. With Pavel Baran there is a subdivision into "the relationship of man to society, to nature and to himself."

The well-known lawyer HLA Hart classified after

  1. causal responsibility in terms of causation
  2. Role responsibility with regard to the task
  3. Skills responsibility with regard to the feasibility
  4. Liability that may differ from the causation.

In these three structural proposals, moral responsibility is not directly named. However, it is implicit in Baran and Weischedel. Within the role responsibility there is, for example, the management responsibility, the care responsibility or the responsibility that arises from the professional ethos of a certain class (doctors, scientists). The determination of causal responsibility is not normative, but is based on empirical knowledge. Their relation is in two digits and exists between the bearer and the object of responsibility.

Karl Jaspers is also known outside of the philosophical circles through an early examination of the responsibility of the individual for the crimes of National Socialism in the essay The Question of Guilt (1946). He discussed this

  • the criminal guilt that arises as a result of objectively verifiable legal violations is decided in a court and results in a formal penalty,
  • the political guilt that is generated by the actions of individual citizens and the shared responsibility of how he is governed and is subject to the violence and judgment of the political victor who holds the actors responsible,
  • moral guilt from actions that go beyond the legal situation and that are to be justified before one's own conscience and must lead to insight, repentance and renewal, and
  • the metaphysical guilt, which is a lack of solidarity between people and people, i.e. based on the joint responsibility for all injustice and injustice in the world and already arises when looking away and whose justification authority is God alone, to whom one can only give up one's own pride and meet with humility .

Jaspers came to the conclusion that there can be no collective guilt and that, except in the case of legal guilt, one cannot speak of guilt in the real sense. Rather, responsibility arises from the depth of one's own conscience. However, this responsibility cannot be compensated and does not expire. That is why an entire people can be made politically liable for the consequences of their collective actions. However, for moral responsibility one must relate to the individual.

Otfried Höffe describes another level with the division into responsibility for tasks, accountability and liability, which is more oriented towards the process of responsible action. Apel differentiated by a "micro-scale (family, marriage, neighborhood), a meso range (level of national politics) and a macro range (fate of mankind)." A new, in systems theory justified aspect, Walter L. Buhl to the fore with the Demand to supplement individual, collective and cooperative responsibility in such a way that responsibility is also assigned to those who are responsible for the design of systems and the creation of interfaces ( bifurcations ).

With regard to acting within the framework of institutions, e.g. For example, in the case of products made jointly by technicians, Hans Lenk pointed out that there is only joint responsibility for collective action, which depends on the influence and participation power. He divided these into

  • Responsibility for institutional action (initiation or leadership and command responsibility)
  • Pension responsibility
    • general care responsibility
    • active prevention responsibility (preventive responsibility)
  • negative responsibility for causal action (avoidance of omissions)
  • positive causal action (result) responsibility.

This can be realized z. For example, by the conversion of sanctions on prevention and prospective anticipation of possible risks rather than retrospective attribution of injurious effects of so-called. Soft law rules (such as mediation , commitment or monitoring at temporary permits) for Responsibilisierung systemic processes, a personalization of the decision-making processes should continue to ensure the accountability of decisions.

Responsibility and freedom

In the traditional understanding, responsibility requires freedom of action. This corresponds to the view that the actor could actually have acted differently based on a decision. The person responsible is seen as someone who, autonomously following his moral reason, can make an arbitrary decision and also realize it through an action, although he could have acted differently. According to this, a free act takes place without compulsion and is not accidental. In this view, freedom is the condition for human self-determination. “Freedom of will is therefore a presupposition of being able to do and not being able to do, which is part of the language game responsible .” That is why responsibility in the first step is a claim on oneself and for oneself. The individual is both an object of his own responsibility as well as the authority to which he must answer. The standard is his conscience , in which all natural and social norms are bundled. By internalizing the external norms of society and the reasons that they see as reasonable, they feel the responsibility and their violations of the standards they have gained as an “inner voice”. These personal norms were predominantly Christian until the Enlightenment and since the beginning of modern times have had an ever stronger relationship to reason and to reasons of reason, which lie in the assumed autonomy of the subject. “The unity of reason in all its finite forms is based on responsibility. Because the human being is the being to whom tasks are set, human existence is always possible within the horizon of recognized areas of activity. "

By accepting freedom of action as a prerequisite for the concept of responsibility, it becomes the subject of discussion about free will in the philosophy of mind . The traditional understanding of a self-determining ego, which largely coincides with everyday understanding and the usual view in criminal law, is known as libertarianism . In the field of philosophy, this view is considered a minority position. Well-known representatives include Immanuel Kant , Roderick Chisholm , Peter van Inwagen , Robert Kane and, in Germany, Geert Keil . If, on the other hand, someone assumes that the world is completely causally determined (strict determinism ), he cannot ascribe responsibility to anyone, because he could not have acted otherwise. This rather rare view is represented by Galen Strawson , Ted Honderich or Derk Pereboom . Much more widespread is the position that although the physical world is deterministic, there is still free will ( compatibilism ). There are a number of variations on this basic conception. Daniel Dennett and Harry Frankfurt , for example, assume that the respective freedom of action is not based on alternative options. The decision of the person responsible is fixed by his personal history and the existing conditions, but he has to decide at the moment due to incomplete information. Dennett also advocates the thesis that moral evaluations and thus the assignment of responsibility have their origins in biological and cultural evolution. A similar position, which they call "semi-compatibilism", is represented by John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza, in that they deny free will but affirm the responsibility of the institute because it has a significant influence on the behavior (not the decisions) of the People can be taken. Peter Strawson took a more neutral position , who did not consider it necessary to decide the question of determinism, because the acceptance of free will and the ascription of responsibility are inevitably part of human life. Julian Nida-Rümelin ties in directly to this: “We as normal human beings, embedded in social contexts, cannot help but assume responsibility and freedom to the extent that it speaks for the moral feelings and attitudes we all share (Strawson here from reactive attitudes ) is required. Our lifeworld interpersonal relationships leave no room for theoretical convictions that would make these attitudes appear to be unfounded. B. Michael Pauen, like Moritz Schlick or David Hume before him, a deterministic world and the existence of real alternative courses of action are compatible. The overwhelming consensus is that many human activities that are marked as actions are caused by their history, social conditions, but also physical and psychological reactions to unconscious facts (such as hormonal states or unconscious perceptions). There are cognitive scientists like the brain researchers Gerhard Roth and Wolf Singer or the psychologist Wolfgang Prinz , who question the culpability and thus the criminal law in general. The scientific-theoretical premises of this naturalistic view are controversial. In particular, the first-person perspective is not sufficiently considered in these statements . At least, however, people's freedom of choice is severely restricted by external conditions and conscious reflection and personal development are required in order to come to a voluntary decision (non-classical compatibilism, Peter Bieri , Ansgar Beckermann ). In addition, there is the view that the physical world and the spiritual world represent two independent levels, which are coordinated with one another, but do not depend on one another ( dualism ). This idea, expressly formulated by Descartes , finds fewer and fewer followers in modern times.

Attribution of responsibility

A moral person is a subject “whose actions are capable of attribution.” Responsibility can be ascribed to someone if he has caused the outcome of the action ( causally ). It is not the action but the outcome of the action that points back to the responsibility. When someone drives a car, it is important that they do not cause an accident. The account is required if someone has not met the responsible of its tasks, or only by good fortune for. B. escaped a violation of existing standards despite driving too fast. A teacher is not limited to his methods, but is measured by the learning success of the students, whereby the success in turn depends on the willingness and skills of the students and other framework conditions. The prerequisite is that the violation of a norm or the failure to perform a task is recognized by the agent himself or a third party who demands justification. The extent of a person's responsibility can be graded for all effects based on the type of relationship between the actor and an event:

  1. with which it can somehow be connected (association)
  2. that caused it
  3. that caused it and could foresee it
  4. which it deliberately brought about
  5. which it brought about on purpose and which cannot be justified.

In practice, the actual attribution of the result of an action or omission takes place differently in relation to the specific case and depending on the person, their abilities, their personal socialization and history, on the one hand and the situation on the other. It also takes into account the extent to which someone acted negligently . An actor is considered to be sane if he is capable of acting, i. H. is not restricted due to its individual conditions and external circumstances. Otherwise he is more or less insane. This also applies to general rules of life such as “ignorance does not protect against punishment” or “parents are responsible for their children”. If someone could have foreseen or prevented the consequences of an action with reasonable care, ignorance or lack of intention can usually not serve as an exculpation . The situation is different for people whose personal conditions do not meet the usual requirements of a person who is free to make decisions and to act. Such restrictions apply, for example, to children, dementia, the mentally handicapped or the mentally ill, but also to people who have fallen into a particular state of excitement without their own action and who act in an affect . The attribution can be quite different from the perspective of the agent and from the observer's perspective (“I can't help it” versus “It's your fault”). The question of whether the agent and the observed resp. Those who demand responsibility follow the same system of standards.

Actions of third parties are assigned to a person if they can decisively influence their actions from a certain role. Classic cases are parents and children in the family (care responsibility) or superiors and employees in work systems (management responsibility). If actions in these cases have negative consequences, responsibility falls to those directly acting only partially or not at all. The person in charge (the parents, the supervisor) must take suitable organizational precautions to ensure that the task at hand is fulfilled and that no damage occurs to those who are entrusted to him. Otherwise he is at fault for the organization . On the other hand, the question arises to what extent employees are freed from responsibility at work by the instructions of their superiors . The classic case in which this is not the case is instruction to crime. Hannah Arendt discussed this urgently in the case of Adolf Eichmann . A modern variant of this is the question of the whistleblower's right if he publishes explosive information without authorization.

Thomas Nagel and Bernard Williams referred to a particular problem of the attribution of moral responsibility under the heading “Moral Luck”. Both discuss the fact that causation and intention to act are not the same in moral evaluation. If someone shoots a person with murderous intent, the offense is assessed differently if it was successful than if the victim accidentally stumbled and the shot failed. The outcome of the action is different. In criminal law this has direct consequences for the sentence. The different evaluation of similar actions due to the fact that chance had an influence on the outcome of the action is controversial. In the assessment, it is particularly important whether one follows an ethics of conviction in which the intention to act is to be assessed morally, or whether one focuses primarily on the outcome of the action in the sense of responsibility or, in particular, in the sense of an ethics of success .

Collective responsibility

In modern complex societies there is a multitude of more or less formal groupings that participate as institutions in social life and have an influence on it. These include the state, associations, clubs, churches, companies, scientific institutes, political parties and various corporations under public law as well as a vast number of other non-governmental organizations.

Elements of individual and corporate responsibility
WHO (subject of action) individual corporation
WHAT (plot) Retail stores Contexts of action
( consequences of action)
causally attributable
direct action
synergistic and
cumulative effects, action
To whom
Those affected by actions and consequences of actions
(responsible authority)
Conscience, client,
Corporate commitments
, public
(norms and values)
Role responsibility vs.
Universal responsibility
Corporate goals vs.
social or universal

Within such organizations, people act collectively or through a governing body. A problem with the ascription of responsibility in such groups is that the causal relationship of the individual to an action result can hardly be determined or that the influence of the individual is so small that he justifiably refuses to have to stand up for the consequences of the action. The problem of responsibility for the climate catastrophe becomes easy to understand . Whether the individual drives less in the car or eats meat less often has no direct influence on the climate. An influence can only be felt when the totality of people changes in behavior. Political solutions can contribute to this. So the individual holds back and waits for the politicians to fix it. The individual follows the Saint Florians principle and evades his actual responsibility ( diffusion of responsibility ). The question arises more directly from the voters of the NSDAP as to who is responsible for the catastrophic consequences. Here the responsibility through passivity becomes visible, which Karl Jaspers identified as guilt. Practical problems with the attribution of responsibility also exist in the case of disasters such as the nuclear disaster in Fukushima , the disaster in Bhopal or the accident at the Love Parade in 2010 . The question always arises, whose action was the cause of the outcome. What is the responsibility of a bank that finances a company that causes major environmental damage? Usually this question is answered in the negative, unless the bank was aware of specific risks. But does the same apply when arms manufacturers are financed? An example of the attribution and assumption of responsibility are the compensation payments made by German companies to victims of Nazi forced labor .

When analyzing the concept of collective responsibility, a distinction must be made between cooperative and corporate responsibility. Cooperative responsibility is the shared responsibility for a joint work or a joint task, which is essentially due to the individual and his influence on the overall result. When it comes to corporate responsibility, i.e. the attribution of responsibility to a formal institution, a non-natural but legal person, there are different views. While Julian Nida-Rümelin, among others , advocates that responsibility in corporations should be attributed to the individual taking into account his share and his ability to influence, Matthias Maring considers a hierarchical model of responsibility to be sensible under the restrictive condition of the principle of subsidiarity . He differentiates responsibility from the point of view of individual ethics, social ethics, institutional ethics and corporate ethics, each of which must be combined with ethical approaches in terms of content. Nida-Rümelin restricts his individualism of responsibility insofar as individual interests take a back seat to group preferences in the action. Robert Sugden takes a similar position. On the other hand, H. D. Lewis already represented a pure responsibility individualism in 1948 with regard to National Socialism. Margaret Gilbert, on the other hand, is one of those representatives who believe that there is genuine collective guilt.

In the legal area, legal persons are indisputably the subjects of action - represented by their governing bodies - e.g. B. in liability issues. However, there is no criminal responsibility for institutions. In the ethical and moral sphere, the discussion has advanced so far that responsibility is ascribed to companies as a unit. The terms corporate governance and corporate social responsibility have become established for this discourse .

Citizen Responsibility

Citizen responsibility is characterized on the one hand by the fulfillment of duties of a citizen such as exercising the right to vote , active participation in political decision-making (support or membership in parties or non-governmental organizations) as well as taking on socially necessary lay offices such as that of an electoral worker Aldermen . On the other hand, the demand for an active civil society is gaining ground, both on the part of citizens and in politics. Participation in the community takes place in a variety of ways. “The civil society project , as it has developed from the Societas civilis through civil society to modern civil society, is based on at least three pillars of responsibility:

  • The personal responsibility, which consists in the independent justification of rules of action and the insight into existing obligations to act;
  • personal responsibility, which is characterized by the independent fulfillment of action goals and an autonomous lifestyle;
  • shared responsibility, which is characterized by participation in the community and commitment to the common good . "

The increasing importance of the demand for a stronger civil society was reflected in the Enquete Commission on the Future of Civic Engagement , which was founded in 1999 and presented its report in 2002. It says:

“In terms of the history of ideas , the concept of civil society is linked to the concept of 'good political order'. The idea of ​​active citizenship goes back to the ancient polis and the Italian city republics of the early modern period and still describes the status that characterizes the members of a political community who are endowed with equal rights and duties. Democratic citizenship is at the same time linked to the right to active participation , i. H. with the readiness to get involved in the formation of political will in an informed manner, to take part in elections and votes and to take on public tasks and offices. Since democracies can and want to do without coercion to a large extent, civic engagement becomes a political virtue that characterizes the “good citizen”. At the same time it is the yardstick for the democratic quality of a community.
Civil society is the vision of a political community in which the state and its institutions are not solely or primarily responsible for the future of the political community. Civil society means to say goodbye to the idea of ​​the general responsibility of the state, to allow and to demand that citizens take greater care of the fate of the community. Civil society is a society of self-confident and self-responsible citizens, a society of self-empowerment and self-organization. "

Responsibility and history

Picht takes the view that in history man realizes himself as a possibility of nature wherever “he recognizes his responsibility and fulfills it.” This means not only “responsibility for other people, but also necessarily responsibility for things. “This includes responsibility for animals and the environment through to the climate. Because: “In so far as he bears responsibility, man is determined as a being that has its self-being not in itself, but outside of itself. He has mediated his self-being through history in nature; he has mediated his self-being through nature in history. ”(328) Man must understand that he is inevitably involved in nature, the history of which is part of his own history and that, within the framework of his possibilities and actions, he is responsible for the history of Nature is responsible.

Especially for people with an exposed position in society - “statesmen, philosophers, seers, poets” - history becomes an authority that shows whether and how they have taken their responsibility. "That is why history also functions as a court of justice." (329)

Picht even goes so far as to assert that, conversely, responsibility for the future implies that man also bears responsibility for his historical past. “To the extent that we prove to be incapable of being consciously responsible for the transmission of past history and for the guilt of past history itself, to the same extent that we are unable to grasp in our present what our responsibility is for future history demands of us. ”(331) In this sense, the speech of the“ grace of late birth ”for the Germans in relation to their National Socialist past is wrong. "Germany will still have to suffer from the consequences of National Socialism in a hundred years , and no protest against collective guilt can change the fact that we actually exist as if we were liable." (330) With the recognition of history as an authority of Responsibility follows the maxim “preservation of humanity”. (332) In this spirit, Angela Merkel formulated when she was the first foreign head of government to address the Knesset on March 18, 2008 : “I am deeply convinced: Only if Germany accepts its perpetual responsibility for the moral catastrophe in German history confesses, we can shape the future humanely. Or to put it another way: Humanity arises from responsibility for the past. "

Responsibility for the future

As already indicated by Georg Picht, a new perspective of responsibility for the future developed in the 1970s. Important contributions to this were Karl-Otto Apel's “The Apriori of the Communication Society” (1973) and above all The Principle of Responsibility by Hans Jonas, which looked beyond the discussion on responsibility beyond people or the reverence for life itself ( Albert Schweitzer ) to nature in general and to future generations. Here the people as a collective are now assigned the responsibility to avoid damage caused by large-scale technologies and as a result of mass society.

Responsibility for the future also includes weighing up risks and evaluating them by assessing the consequences of the risks. Linked to this is the imperative to refrain from actions that could endanger the existence of the environment or future generations. Early topics of emerging environmental ethics and future ethics were the discussion about nuclear technology or environmental pollution . More recently, questions of bioethics and genetic engineering , but above all the threatening global warming, have been added as topics.

Spheres of responsibility

Spheres of responsibility denote different constellations of life and meaning, which are characterized by different standards of responsibility. In this respect, responsibility is an umbrella term for denoting family resemblance in the sense of Ludwig Wittgenstein of various social situations. The respective spheres such as criminal law , religion, morality, politics or economics have developed their own value systems and sanctioning procedures in order to take their individual requirements and circumstances into account. This can lead to at least partial conflicts over the weighting and evaluation of responsibility. The more different the demands, the more complex and difficult it becomes for the actor to meet his responsibility in a certain situation. Even within a sphere there can be conflicts; this can result in different recommendations for action, depending on whether one follows utilitarian or deontological moral principles.

Responsibility in religion

Christian-Jewish religions

The man of the Christian-Jewish religions has received from God the commission to "cultivate and preserve God's creation" (Genesis 2:15). In addition, the " tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Genesis 2 , 9) enables the ability to evaluate one's actions. That is why God can demand that man keep his commandments and man must answer to God. This is the religious authority of justification, man is the subject responsible for his actions and the object of responsibility is the whole world as God-given trust . Man must therefore always strive to recognize the commandments of God and to live according to them in order to fulfill his responsibility before God. This is expressed in a “godly” way of dealing with fellow human beings and one's environment. The Ten Commandments , which survive historical change due to their brevity and general validity, offer him a basic orientation . This gives rise to social imperatives such as respect for life, preservation of an intact family, respect for property and the duty to be truthful. From these principles, Leo Baeck derived the obligation to take responsibility for others at all times, but especially in difficult life situations. Similarly, Martin Buber uses faith as a guideline for the responsibility of the educator: “Nothing more than the image of God . That is the indefinable, only factual whereabouts of the present educator who is responsible. "

The basic commandment of the New Testament is documented in the Sermon on the Mount and directly calls for charity , mercy and justice . Christians must answer for their actions before the Last Judgment . “Anyone who rejects me and does not accept my words already has his judge: the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day” ( Jn 12.48  EU ). The question of belief plays an essential role in this. The unbeliever does not even come into the position of justification, because he does not know the commandments of God and is therefore excluded from judgment, but also from God's grace. “Those who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law; and those who have sinned under the law will be condemned by the law ”( Rom 2:12  EU ).

In modern times a Christian social teaching has developed which also takes into account the idea of ​​individuality and personal responsibility. “Man is a moral subject because he is free to act in a self-determined manner and can make the distinction between good and bad. His doing and leaving is to be attributed to him. He bears responsibility for himself, for his fellow human beings and for God. ”In doing so, dealing with nature, the economy and science are also included in the considerations, for example Pope Paul VI. in his: Encyclical Populorum Progressio (Progress of the Peoples) from 1967 :. “Through the tenacious application of his intelligence and his work, man snatches nature's hidden laws step by step and makes use of its powers. By cultivating his way of life, he develops the urge to research and invent, the yes to calculated risk, the risk to new and generous ventures and the sense of responsibility. "(No. 25)" Every program to increase Production is only justified insofar as it serves people. It should remove inequalities, eliminate discrimination, free people from slavery and thus enable them to take responsibility for their material well-being, their moral progress and their spiritual development. ”(No. 34) Wolfgang Huber represents the The view that social ethics overcomes the pure ethics of conviction, which in his opinion is emphasized in Kant's connection of the autonomous subject to conscience, and comes to an ethics of responsibility in which the actions and consequences of actions are in the foreground, so that the demands on the modern technical-scientific world can only be mastered. The common co-responsibility has its evidence in the verse, which is also popular as a wedding saying: “Bear the burden of one another, and you will fulfill the law of Christ” ( Gal 6,2  EU ). In a memorandum of the Evangelical Church, the ethics of responsibility is derived directly from the parable of the Good Samaritan : “The perception of responsibility in the sense of assuming it presupposes its perception in the sense of knowing it. This connection can be seen as an example in Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan ( Lk 10.25-37  EU ). The morality that Jesus draws from the example story: "Go and do the same!" (Verse 37) is to be understood as a guide to appropriate attention and thus training in ethical perception. "


The Buddhism as a religion, which refers to no specific transcendent creator God, provides the detail in the foreground and encourages him to take responsibility into their own hands for his life. This also includes striving to develop mentally. The ethical foundation of Buddhism is compassion , which is generally understood as the desire that others be free from suffering, and which includes an awareness of duty, responsibility and respect for others. In contrast, Buddhism rejects prescribing how others should exercise their responsibility. At best, the Buddhist gives the other person the hint of the right path. Whether and how this is followed is then up to each individual.

In general, one of the teachings of Buddhism is the responsible use of life and the environment. This is expressed, for example, in the justification for the Nobel Peace Prize for the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso . "The Dalai Lama developed his philosophy of peace on the basis of great reverence for all living beings and the idea of ​​a universal responsibility that encompasses all of humanity as well as nature."

Chinese philosophy

In Chinese philosophy , which is primarily an applied ethics , the concept of responsibility is not explicitly discussed, but is implicitly required because correct action in all areas contributes to a good, successful life. The great Chinese philosophers were largely a-religious. They saw themselves as teachers who show how people can create a harmonious order in society as a prerequisite for a good life. Chinese philosophy originated in the Warring States period with high political instability from around 500 BC. BC and was initially strongly fragmented. One speaks of the period of the hundred schools .

The oldest and most widespread current is Confucianism , which placed great emphasis on the preservation of traditions and a good education in order to be able to face the turbulent conditions of its time. “The core of Confucian political doctrine is a patriarchal-conservative humanism with a high sense of responsibility. [...] It is a fairly rigorous moral code. ”In Daoism , which has elements of a religion, harmony is sought more in harmony with nature and in abstinence. The Mohism was related to Confucianism, but stressed more religious aspects, and had a more pronounced social ethics . The basic virtues of Confucianism are humanity (Ren), morality (Li) and reciprocity (Shù). In the tales of Confucius , in the Lunyu , it is reported: “Zigong asked if there was a word that one could stick to throughout life. The master said: “It's probably called shù. What one does not wish for oneself, do not inflict on other people. ”“ (Lunyu, 15, 23) Humanity and the observance of classification and subordination in society are to be brought into harmony according to the golden rule . The orientation towards harmony leads to a much greater group orientation compared to European individualism, so that decisions are often only made in community. Responsibility is correspondingly more shared.

Legal responsibility

In the area of ​​law, the concept of responsibility always has a social dimension. Self-responsibility or self-responsibility and the question of conscience do not play a role in law. From a legal point of view , responsibility is understood as the duty of a person to be accountable for their decisions and actions with regard to compliance with documented regulations . If a person is assigned a task and the associated competence , he must carry it out and be responsible for the consequences in the event of errors. In science, the term accountability is increasingly used for this . In contrast to moral or religious responsibility, there is no self-imputation, only the attribution of the violation of law by a judge. The subjective aspect is only expressed in the assessment of the sentence . Legal responsibility is therefore always tied to empirical findings, and a link with abstract ( a priori ) values ​​is not taken into account in the assessment of responsibility by the law.

A distinction is made between:

There is a chain between responsibility, tasks and activities . Tasks are options for work or action; they are partly based on objectives; Activities, on the other hand, are subordinate acts that serve to fulfill the tasks. Responsibility in the law can relate to people, but also to material goods and the fulfillment of certain requirements for roles such as the owner, trustee or tenant. Within the law there are again independent spheres with different content in criminal law with the sanction of the penalty, civil law with the consequence of liability or family law in which the duty of care is in the foreground. These are again different from an international perspective due to the historical differences of the respective legal systems. This becomes clear , for example, with product liability in the Anglo-American legal area compared to the handling in Europe.

Because the codification of norms is a necessary condition for the relevance of responsibility in law, legal and moral responsibility can fall apart. Morality usually forbids any form of self-harm, while the law partially permits the use of drugs such as alcohol. Another case is the right to abortion . A particular problem in overcoming this difference arises when actions have taken place legally within one legal system which, from the point of view of other legal systems, constitute crimes, as was the case in the wall rifle trials . In extreme cases, the falling apart of morality and law can result in people being forced for legal reasons to act against their moral values, so that, depending on whether the norm is followed, a guilt arises in the other sphere, for example for the civil servant who To carry out a deportation , although he considers it morally wrong.

Political responsibility

On the one hand, political responsibility stands in the area of ​​tension between power and the abuse of power; on the other hand, it is primarily linked to the claim to success. The politician receives the trust of his constituents and is responsible for the results of his policy. Control is based on public opinion and the need to run again. In terms of the fundamental impact of politics, a distinction is usually made between two types of responsibility, which serve as different guidelines for a desired image of society:

  • Self- responsibility ( personal responsibility ) means taking responsibility for yourself as well as for your own actions, speeches and omissions.
  • Shared responsibility means taking responsibility for others (especially those who can only partially do so).

Shared responsibility and personal responsibility are to be seen as equal types of responsibility; often both are required in combination. With regard to the tasks of the welfare state , liberals tend to emphasize personal responsibility, which they see as the basis for personal freedom . According to the liberal view, the state should only take action when the individual, e.g. B. due to illness or unemployment, with which personal responsibility is overwhelmed. State support services are mainly intended to help people help themselves (→ principle of subsidiarity ).

Social democrats, on the other hand, tend to emphasize shared responsibility, which they see as the basis for social justice . They therefore advocate a state-institutionalized community of solidarity . The state takes responsibility for its citizens. Liberals criticize this as paternalistic .

An international concept is the initiative Responsibility to Protect ( Responsibility to Protect ) to protect the people from serious human rights violations and fractures of international humanitarian law.

Moral responsibility

In contrast to practical task responsibilities and legal responsibility, Micha H. Werner assigns moral responsibility a special status. “Moral responsibility cannot be understood as just one type of responsibility among many. Rather, it also has the status of a universally valid meta-responsibility, which at the same time limits and justifies all other forms of responsibility. Because from a moral perspective, we are looking for an answer to the question of how we should act at all - taking into account all conditional obligations. The attribution of prospective responsibility is not a descriptive, but a prescriptive utterance. "

Stefan Gosepath differentiates between primary and secondary moral responsibility. Primary is the responsibility that results directly from one's own actions and individual tasks. Secondly, however, there is also a general responsibility to eliminate recognized evils and conditions, even if one is not directly involved in their existence or creation. Accountability arises solely from being able to eliminate or reduce injustice . In this way, Gosepath opens the concept of responsibility to social issues and issues of justice . This corresponds to Jonas's demand to also include altruism in the consideration: “Responsibility for the welfare of others, for example, not only 'sifts through' given actions for their moral admissibility, but also obliges to actions that are not intended for any other purpose. “It should be noted that the term responsibility does not yet include values ​​as such. Accordingly, Dieter Birnbacher states: “Without taking responsibility towards others, we cannot make moral reproaches that he is putting his own life, health or happiness at risk, or letting his abilities lie idle. No matter how much he harms himself as a result, he does not violate any norm of responsibility. "

Responsibility in business

With economy of the entire area of life is described, in which man goods and services exchanges to satisfy its economic needs. In this field of the lifeworld there are a multitude of roles that different people assume, so that very different types of responsibility arise. These questions are addressed in business philosophy and business ethics and discussed with different ideological perspectives.

In relation to individual companies, the question of responsibility is discussed under the heading of corporate social responsibility . The responsibility of companies is often discussed in terms of the interests of those affected by the company's activities, the stakeholders . In addition to the owners, this includes employees, customers and suppliers, the citizens of the local communities in which the company operates, the state as the recipient of taxes and also the environment, insofar as and to the extent that it is affected by the company's activities. The company has a specific partial responsibility for all of these interest groups, which goes beyond simply complying with legal regulations. A difficult part of responsibility is to properly balance the various demands. The enforcement of liability claims often depends on the legal form and the size of the company.

Since regulations are set by politics as a framework for the economic order, this also results in shared responsibility for economic events. Questions of national debt and responsibility towards future generations , economic policy , aspects of sustainability and environmental protection play a role as well as consumer protection . Consumers have an independent responsibility in their purchasing behavior , as this gives the players on the supplier side essential impulses. Here, for example, the aspect of sustainability is in conflict with the throwaway society .

Responsibility in Science

The paradigmatic case for the responsibility of science is the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki . For the first time it became drastically visible to a global public that a large-scale technology can cause considerable damage to people. The use of stable nature, which has not been questioned in history, has turned into a threat to nature and the living environment in the 20th century through the application of the results of science in modern technologies. Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker , among others, documented this very clearly in a series of speeches. One of the consequences was that, for the first time, a group of scientists, the Göttingen Eighteen, had massively opposed the nuclear armament of the German armed forces . Another consequence was the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs , initiated by scientists , which contributed significantly to nuclear disarmament. At the third conference in 1958, a statement said:

“Because of their expertise, scientists are able to recognize early on the dangers and promises that arise from scientific developments. You have a special competence for this and, on the other hand, you also have a special responsibility with regard to the most urgent problems of our time. "

Albert Einstein went even further and referred to a more general responsibility of the scientist when he wrote to his friend Max von Laue :

"Your view that the scientific man in the political, i. H. I do not share human affairs in the broader sense. You can see from the conditions in Germany where such self-restraint leads. It means leaving the leadership to the blind and irresponsible without resistance. Isn't there a lack of responsibility behind it? Where would we be if people like Giordano Bruno , Spinoza , Voltaire , Humboldt had thought and acted like that? "

The original sense of responsibility in science is largely congruent with the professional ethos of a scientist who is responsible for the correctness of his findings, guarantees the safety of the people directly affected by his research and is responsible for the sensible use of the resources made available to him. According to traditional understanding, the consequences of research, what happens to these results after his findings are published, is not his responsibility. Helmut F. Spinner speaks of the scientist's "internal responsibility". The authority to which a scientist justifies himself here is the community of researchers and, in economic terms, the public sector as financier. In addition to any legal liability that may exist, the main issue here is the value of the scientific reputation .

Skinner sees an expanded responsibility of the scientist for the consequences of the research if the findings are likely to have significant negative consequences for people who are only indirectly affected by the application. This also includes the possible misuse of research results ( dual use ). Topics of this kind are research in the field of nuclear technology , pharmacology , medicine , climate research , marine biology and many others. One of the tasks of the scientist is not only to draw the public's attention to possible problems with the research results, but at the same time to provide research results that make the new technologies controllable, or to clearly point out the limits of controllability. But even if the issue of controllability does not present itself immediately, modern science has progressed so far that potential researchers may conflict with the values of society, as the debates on embryo research , but also the development of new plants by genetic engineering in the genetic engineering show. It is the responsibility of the sciences to ensure that society is informed as appropriately as possible in such cases, even if the latter may then decide against carrying out the research. In order to meet this requirement, the Max Planck Society , for example, has developed its own code for its research.

Responsibility and media

Journalists, too, have a system of action so that both “heroic” individual ethics and corporate responsibility are relevant to them. The responsibility of the media and the people acting in their systems is based on the consequences for those affected by the publications. The self-image of the journalist is first of all to inform an interested public. That this reporting is subject to ethical requirements, is evident in normative regulations such as the Press Code of the German Press Council , the Code of Ethics for the Austrian Press or News Councils in the US and other countries. The moral character is particularly expressed in these codes because the parties involved are bound by self-commitment without any legal obligation. According to this, editors and journalists must “be aware of their responsibility to the public and their obligation to the reputation of the press in their work.” Sanctions in the media sector are, on the one hand, as in classical individual ethics, conscience, but on the other hand, public reaction on a report. Specific questions are about the protection of personal rights , about the fairness of reporting, but also the protection of people such as early reporting of investigations by the police, which can harm the possible victims.

History of ideas

For Hans-Martin Schönherr-Mann , the concept of responsibility is the result of the emancipation processes that followed the Enlightenment. “The emancipation of the citizens in the 18th century, that of the Jews and workers in the 19th, that of women and blacks in the 20th, and that of homosexuals and the various minorities in the 21st century are linked by a right to maturity in the political and private spheres . This gives you the freedom to choose your own way of life and to shape it according to your own ideas. ”The newly won maturity creates new values, a new ethic and the feeling of being reliant on one's own existence, which is reflected in new perspectives in the philosophy of Stirner , Kierkegaard and Nietzsche to Jaspers , Sartre , Levinas , Derrida and Foucault . Schweitzer , Bonhoeffer , Buber or Küng , who strives for a “ global ethic from an emancipatory perspective”, gained access to religious sentiment , as did communitarists such as Amitai Etzioni or thinkers who seek their support in connection with Kant in rationality , such as the representatives of discourse ethics . Responsibility is rationally based morality that compensates for the collapse of traditional values ​​following the Enlightenment.

Robert Spaemann names four reasons for the growing importance of the concept of responsibility:

  1. Due to the increasing complexity of human living conditions, the agent needs increasing discretion to cope with his tasks.
  2. In the course of social development, the various social subsystems have become more and more differentiated, so that the coordination of different roles requires additional, possibly conflicting decisions.
  3. The growing scientific transparency of long-term accumulation of human consequences of actions creates additional knowledge about the dangers emanating from human actions.
  4. The increasing speed of changes in the framework conditions of human activity, especially in the available technologies, increasingly requires an abstract principle instead of a fixed order for regulating human relationships, with which long-range effects (temporal and spatial) can also be recorded.

Wolfgang Kersting sees the “progressive replacement of causality and intentionality” in the concept of responsibility as interest-bound social constructions “which have no natural dimension, which tend to be excessive.” This is reflected in the debate about the “decline or return of values ​​in political ethics”. .


Aristotle already discussed the connection between moral and legal norms and responsibility. For him, the attribution of actions is based on the assumption of freedom of action. In doing so, he already takes into account restrictions on responsibility due to external circumstances, but also knows the principle “ignorance does not protect against punishment” and the consideration of indirect consequences.

“Not only do individuals bear witness to this, but also the legislators themselves. For they chastise and punish those who do evil, insofar as it is not done out of coercion or through no fault of their own. but those who do good distinguish them, their intention being to encourage some to deter others. But nobody encourages us to do things that are not with us and are not voluntary, since it would be of no use if one could be persuaded not to feel any heat or pain or hunger or anything like that. Because one would feel it. The law punishes even ignorance if it turns out that it is your own fault. So those who commit drunkenness meet a double penalty, because the cause lies in the drunk himself. It was up to him not to get drunk. But drunkenness was the cause of his ignorance. Even those who do not know a provision of the law, which they should know and could easily know, are punished. "( EN III 7, 1113b end)

Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant has not yet explicitly discussed the concept of responsibility. His philosophy, however, is of particular importance for the thought figure of responsibility, because he saw people as a personality who can carry out their actions autonomously (self-determined) in freedom and to whom these actions can therefore be attributed not only legally, but also as a moral judgment. " Imputatio ( imputatio ) in a moral sense is the judgment whereby someone is viewed as the author ( causa libera ) of an act which is then called an act ( factum ) and is subject to laws; which, if it also carries the legal consequences of this act, would be legally binding ( imputatio iudiciaria s. valida ), but otherwise only an assessing attribution ( imputatio diiudicatoria ). "Kant already had the limitations of imputability based on empirical facts clearly pointed out: “Our attributions can only be related to the empirical character. How much of this, however , can be ascribed to the pure effect of freedom, how much is to be ascribed to the bare nature and the involuntary fault of the temperament or its happy nature ( merito fortunae ), nobody can fathom and therefore cannot judge according to complete justice ”.

With Kant, responsibility before God is only an abstract principle, a figure of thought. The practical yardstick is conscience. According to Kant, conscience only functions if one imagines it to be an independent observer who takes its position independently of the subjective will of the person concerned “compelled” by reason. The conscience is a natural device of the spirit, from which a person cannot escape and which functions as a judge in him. Because of the general validity of the claim, one can equate conscience with God. “Conscience will have to be thought of as the subjective principle of a responsibility to be taken before God because of his deeds; yes, the latter concept (even if only in a dark way) will always be contained in that moral self-consciousness. ”Due to the limits of reason, however, the idea of ​​a god remains only an idea. "The concept of religion in general is here for man merely 'a principle of judging all his duties as divine commandments'."


Søren Kierkegaard was the first philosopher to deal with the question of responsibility based on an existential need. For Kierkegaard, questions of faith and morals defy reasonable interpretation. Humans are free in their decisions and are therefore dependent on themselves. Man is the one who, through choice, “assumes an essential responsibility for what he excludes as the accidental, in view of the fact that he has excluded it.” (EO 827) But knowing about his freedom, the necessity, a choice having to meet, man remains in search of the meaning of life . Kierkegaard distinguished between three stages of human existence that human existence can go through in search of meaning: the aesthetic, the ethical and the religious.

The aesthetic person feels sadness because he is exposed to his fate. The aesthetic is not a choice between good and bad, but indifference . (EO 728) It is the immediate, the pleasurable, self-enjoying life in the moment in which the person only relates to himself and is therefore free of responsibility. But this life brings no fulfillment; it is superficial and affected. The unfulfilled search drives the aesthetic person into despair. "Every person who only lives aesthetically has a secret horror of despair, because he knows very well that what brings about despair is the general, and he knows at the same time that what he has his life in, the difference is. The higher an individual stands, the more differences he has destroyed or is in despair about them, but he always retains a difference that he does not want to destroy, in which he has his life. "(EO 789)

Man finds progress in the ethical life as the second stage. Only when a person does not only relate to himself, but directs his responsibility towards society, does he find the existential way of life for himself. In the ethical stage, he now also takes responsibility for his surroundings. “Whoever chooses himself ethically, however, chooses himself concretely as this particular individual; the individual remains conscious of himself as this particular individual, with the special gifts and inclinations, drives and passions, influenced by a particular environment, in short as this particular product of a particular world. But when a person becomes aware of himself, he takes on all of this and subjects it to his responsibility. He does not hate whether he should take the individual with him or not; for he knows that something much higher is lost if he does not do it. ”(EO 816) But even in the ethical, man cannot overcome doubts and thus his despair. “The ethicist only brings to an end the despair that the higher aesthetician has already begun but arbitrarily broken off; because no matter how great the difference, it is only relative. "(EO 790)

The third stage of existence is the religious stage. In this man dissolves from everything that he can determine with reason. Responsibility is no longer relevant here either. Man chooses God through repentance. “He repents himself back in himself, back in the family, back in sex, until he finds himself in God. Only under this condition can he choose himself, and this is the only condition that he wants, for only then can he choose himself absolutely. ”(EO 774)

For Kierkegaard, responsibility arises from a choice of ethical life. “The good is because I want it, and otherwise it is not at all.” (EO 784) Responsibility is directed towards worldly life and no longer plays a role in the religious stage, where only faith and seriously felt repentance count . With his thoughts Kierkegaard set impulses for existential philosophy and for structuralism and poststructuralism as the philosophy of difference.


Friedrich Nietzsche made a direct connection with the experience following from the Enlightenment , “that no God takes care of us and there is no moral law”. For him it followed: “As soon as one no longer believes in God and in the destiny of a hereafter, becomes man responsible for all living things "Whoever believes in a higher authority that judges man is committing an" error of responsibility ". Rather, the fact that one does not have to answer morally to anyone leads to the insight of a" responsibility to oneself " .

From the recognized personal responsibility, Nietzsche now has the task of designing a philosophy of the future. “As soon as those two means of consolation, Plato and Muhammad, have fallen and no thinker can relieve his conscience on the hypothesis of a 'God' or 'eternal value', the lawgiver's claim rises to a new and still new value not achieved fearfulness. ”The one who has to take responsibility is a new type of person, the superman , who has master morale and is ready to revalue all values . “Revaluation of all values, that is my formula for an act of highest self-reflection for humanity” Nietzsche also described this new person as a “free spirit”, the “good European” or the “new philosophers”. He is "the one who has got away from morality, the autonomous, supra-moral individual". It is now a question of teaching people the future of human beings as their will, as dependent on a human will, and of great daring and total attempts by To prepare for discipline and chastisement in order to put an end to that gruesome rule of nonsense and chance that was previously called 'history' "

Max Weber

In politics as a profession , Max Weber distinguishes the area of ​​tension in which politicians act through the apparent contradiction of a “passion in the sense of objectivity”. Politicians - at least those who have the “job” in politics - are characterized by “devotion to a cause”. This requires a minimum level of conviction ( ethics of conviction ) and the necessary sense of proportion ( ethics of responsibility ). But politicians must not be “sterile excited” either - the attitude must be authentic , but must be fenced in by the ethics of responsibility. In this respect, responsibility appears to be a contradiction to, but also a prerequisite for political attitudes.

“It is an abysmal contradiction whether one acts under the ethical maxim - religiously speaking: 'The Christian does right and leaves success to God' - or under the ethical responsibility: that one has to pay for the (foreseeable) consequences of his actions. "
"Because if, as a consequence of the acosmistic love ethic, it says: 'Do not resist evil by force', the opposite applies to politicians: you should resist evil by force, otherwise you are responsible for its excess."


Albert Schweitzer based his thinking on the ideal of humanity . “Deep religion and deep thinking together created and proclaimed the ideal of humanity. We took it over from them. We confess to it and are convinced that it is the basic ethical element of true culture. ”(GW 5, 169) The motto of his ethics, which he also tried to live in practice, is“ Reverence for life ”. The responsibility for other living beings is based on a naturally given affirmation of life, whereby humans occupy a special position: “In ethical humans, natural occurrences come into contradiction with itself. Nature only knows blind affirmation of life. The will to live that appears in the forces and living beings strives to assert itself. But in man this natural endeavor comes into tension with a mysterious other. The affirmation of life makes an effort to absorb the negation of life in order to serve other living beings with devotion and to protect them from harm and destruction, possibly through self-sacrifice. "(GW 2, 355)

Man's responsibility is particularly expressed in conflict situations. Here the person is dependent on himself and no one can make the decision for him. “Humans can only make subjective decisions in ethical conflicts. Nobody can determine for him where each time the extreme limit of the possibility of remaining in the preservation and promotion of life lies. He alone has to judge it by allowing himself to be guided by the greatest increased responsibility towards the other life. "(GW 2, 388) Schweitzer made this clear with a simple experience:" I buy a young osprey from natives, that they caught on a sandbar to save it from their cruel hands. But now I have to decide whether I will starve him or whether I kill so many little fish every day to keep him alive. I choose the latter. But every day I find it difficult that this life is sacrificed to the other because of my responsibility. "(GW 1, 243)


An extraordinary example of consciously lived responsibility based on faith was Dietrich Bonhoeffer , who publicly opposed National Socialism from the start , actively supported the resistance and was finally murdered in the Flossenbürg concentration camp shortly before the end of the war . Bonhoeffer combined his high theoretical standards with a lifestyle that did justice to them.

Bonhoeffer's personal leitmotif was “the realization of the revealed reality of God in Christ among his creatures” (DBW 6, 34). For him, the good was not the value of a being or an action, but the reality of God. "The good is nothing without this real, and this real is nothing without the good." (DBW 6, 35) Bonhoeffer advocated an ethic of responsibility because he saw faith and action in harmony only in this. The ethics of conviction has no direct relation to the action, the success of an ethics of success is good, but does not require faith as a basis and can therefore pursue deviating values. Both remain on the surface. (DBW 6, 37) People find the right path to responsibility when they lead their practical life in faith. “This real responsibility consists in aligning the concrete form of the divine mandates with their origin, their existence and their goal in Jesus Christ.” (DBW 6, 57) Christian ethics cannot remain in theory for Bonhoeffer. "Here, decisions and actions can no longer be pushed into the individual's conscience, but there are concrete commands and instructions for which obedience is required." (DBW 6, 89) The responsibility no longer rests with the individual, but with the whole Church is challenged. Whoever does not obey cannot answer to God. That is why Bonhoeffer saw the Confessing Church as the only legitimate representation of Protestant Christians in the imitation of Christ during the Nazi era . He emphasized that “through our history we are objectively placed in a certain context of experience, responsibility and decision-making, which we can no longer evade without abstraction.” (DBW 6, 88) In this sense, responsibility can be derived from belief and political Do not separate Christian responsibility. Bonhoeffer contradicted the interpretation of the doctrine of the two kingdoms , which was widespread in Lutheranism , that religious life and public life could be separated in practice.

As the parents do for their children, the Christian assumes responsibility as God's representative in reality (DBW 6, 257). This substitution takes place in the “following” of Christ. (1937, DBW 4) From this position of successor, people are called upon to show moral courage and, in borderline cases, get caught up in the conflict of resistance to positive laws. “There is no law under which the person responsible could seek cover here. There is also no law that could compel those responsible to make this or that decision in the face of such necessity. In view of this situation there is only the complete renunciation of every law, combined with the knowledge that one has to decide here in free risk. ”(DBW 6, 274) A Christian must take on the guilt arising from a violation of the law if he is in the following of Christ, who bore the guilt of men without sin. (DBW 6, 276)

Bonhoeffer emphasized the freedom of people to act responsibly: “Responsibility and freedom are mutually corresponding terms. Responsibility presupposes factual - not temporal - freedom, just as freedom can only exist in responsibility. Responsibility is the human freedom given in the bond to God and to the neighbor alone. “(DBW 6, 283) Who knows about his freedom, also knows about his responsibility.

Following Bonhoeffer, the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Amsterdam in 1948 called for a “responsible society” oriented towards freedom and justice. Martin Honecker defined: “A responsible society is one in which there is freedom of people who know they are responsible for justice and public order, and in which those who have political authority or economic power, God and the people, theirs Welfare depends on being responsible for their exercise. "


In Jean-Paul Sartre's existentialism , the relationship between freedom and responsibility is radicalized. Man is condemned to freedom and is therefore responsible for all actions in the world. (SN 950) Man is the subject, the for-itself that has to accept the state of the world as its own product. Taking on absolute responsibility is the consequence of total freedom. "What happens to me happens to me through me, and I can neither be worried about it, nor rebel against it, nor come to terms with it." (SN 951) Man cannot escape his fate, "provided that ultimately my thrownness, that is my factuality consists only in the fact that I am condemned to be completely responsible for myself. "(SN 955)

By recognizing his freedom and responsibility, man chooses himself. He creates a blueprint for life and this is his image of man. He becomes the general legislator. “When we say that man chooses himself, we mean that each of us chooses himself, but we also want to say that by choosing he chooses all men.” (EH 151) Those who regard themselves as free and responsible also confess grants all others this freedom and demands responsibility from them. The freedom of the other is the limit of one's own freedom. This means that the insight into his thrownness does not isolate people, but only enables them to turn to other people, a humanity. On the other hand, responsibility is a burden.


A key concept in Karl Jaspers' philosophical thinking is that of the borderline situation . The basic situation of humans is that they are aware of themselves as someone who is in a life that they have to master. This also includes the knowledge that he can be sick or must die. A borderline situation always arises when he is confronted in his fate with fundamental crisis situations to which he is at the mercy of without being able to avert them and without having a means of overcoming them; "They are like a wall that we hit, against which we fail."

In order to cope with borderline situations such as the encounter with death, the indisputable historicity or the irreversible guilt, man has to face them according to Jaspers. “We therefore react sensibly to borderline situations not through planning and calculation in order to overcome them, but through a completely different activity, the becoming of the existence possible within us; we become ourselves by entering the borderline situation with open eyes. [...] Experiencing borderline situations and existing is the same thing. "

If a person is guilty of failure, he has to face it and take responsibility. Only in this way does he enter the borderline situation. By accepting responsibility, people correspond to the “never-ending demand to become different”. Jaspers personally implemented this view in a large number of political statements after the Second World War.


Emmanuel Lévinas programmatically states that it is “not entirely unimportant to know whether the egalitarian and just state in which man finds his fulfillment (and which must be established and, above all, persevered) emerges from or from a war of all against all the irreducible responsibility of the one for all and whether he can do without friendships and faces. ”For Lévinas, it is the encounter with the other person face-to-face that gives rise to responsibility. The other meets the subject without it being able to influence it. It is an occurrence for the subject. The other receives the right to be recognized as his own. This is the subject's responsibility to the other.

It is existentially impossible for the subject to “evade responsibility, care and standing up for the other.” This irrefutable demand from the other calls into question the freedom and spontaneity of the subject. The doctor receives responsibility for his patient by choosing the doctor as responsible. In the exercise of his responsibility, the doctor is exposed to the patient. The result is a special intimacy and closeness that Levinas compares to a love relationship. The person responsible must identify with the role of the other, whom he cannot avoid. The determining factor is the "non-indifference of responsibility up to and including substitution for the neighbor."

As with Schweitzer or Sartre, the relationship to the other gives rise to an ethic of humanism in Levinas, in which everyone shares responsibility for the terrible acts such as in the Holocaust , for the destruction of nature or for injustice and hunger due to poverty in the world assigns. “Man does not belong to a society that gives its members limited responsibilities. He is a member of a society with unlimited responsibility. ”Responsibility is realized in justice. "Responsibility now finds a limit by itself, the question arises: 'What do I have to do in a fair way?' Moral issue. What is needed is justice, i.e. comparison, coexistence, simultaneity, gathering, order, thematization, the visibility of the faces and therefore the intentionality and the intellect of the intentionality and the intellect the comprehensibility of the system and in this respect also a common one Presence on the same level, that of equality, as in a court of law. "


For Amitai Etzioni , responsibility is an essential element of a communitarian- oriented community. In his book The Responsible Society he develops criteria that make up a good society. The aim is to achieve a balanced relationship between order and autonomy. He advocates the thesis "that the call for more social responsibility [...] is not aimed at restricting individual rights, but that strong rights and a high degree of responsibility belong together." As individual freedom is increasingly expanded, moral values ​​are being lost and the "already weakened foundations of social virtues are being further undermined." Instead, Etzioni appeals for the development of a common sense that follows the voice of morality, strives for a voluntary assumption of responsibility and sets the golden mean as a value similar to the virtue ethics of Aristotle . "Communities often have strong moral voices and can therefore be helpful in maintaining a social order that is largely based on value obligations and of a voluntary nature instead of being bought or forced." With this he turns against both unbridled capitalism also against a paternalistic state.

Responsibility as a subject of art

The drama Outside the Door by Wolfgang Borchert is a critical examination of responsibility in the Second World War . Friedrich Dürrenmatt addresses the responsibility of science in The Physicists . Similarly, in the play In the J. Robert Oppenheimer play , Heinar Kipphardt negotiates the physicist's responsibility for the use of his invention from the Manhattan project . The composer John Adams also takes up the theme in his opera Doctor Atomic .


  • "Conscious of its responsibility to God and people, inspired by the will to serve world peace as an equal member in a united Europe, the German people, by virtue of their constituent powers, gave themselves this Basic Law." - First sentence of the Basic Law
  • “Our dignity distinguishes us from all other worldly beings; in it we experience our responsibility; we are responsible for ourselves and for others. ”- German Bishops' Conference
  • “Our actions are always screened by responsibility to a certain extent. The essence of this responsibility is the constant tension between our 'I' as the subject of our actions and the experience of something outside of us - some 'law' or judgment seat that judges our actions, some 'investigating eye' that one does not lie to can, because it sees everything and remembers everything well, an infinitely wise and just authority, which is able to pursue the most subtle of our decisions and motivations, which alone can fully understand and finally judge them and their 'irrevocable' attitude for us for some reason more important than anything else in the world. Human responsibility is, by the way, the responsibility for something. But what for? What is this omnipresent, omnipotent and not to be deceived authority and where is it located? ”- Václav Havel
  • “The word responsibility only has a clear meaning where someone is publicly accounted for the consequences of his actions and knows that; so the politician on success, the manufacturer on the market, the civil servant on the criticism of the superiors ”- Arnold Gehlen

See also


  • Hannah Arendt : Personal responsibility in a dictatorship . (Lecture 1964/65) In: Hannah Arendt: Palestine and anti-Semitism . Articles ed. E. Geisel, K. Bittermann. Wagenbach, Berlin 1991, pp. 7-38.
  • Günter Banzhaf: Philosophy of Responsibility. Drafts - Developments - Perspectives. Winter, Heidelberg 2002, ISBN 3-8253-1417-0 .
  • Kurt Bayertz : Responsibility. Principle or problem? Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1995
  • Eva Buddeberg: Responsibility in Discourse. Basic lines of a reconstructive-hermeneutic conception of moral responsibility following Hans Jonas , Karl-Otto Apel and Emmanuel Lévinas . De Gruyter, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-11-025146-3 .
  • Holger Burckhart, Jürgen Sikora, Timo Hoyer: Spheres of Responsibility. Principle or Life Practice? LIT Verlag, Münster 2005, ISBN 3-8258-8730-8 .
  • Ludger Heidbrink: Criticism of Responsibility. On the limits of responsible action in complex contexts . Velbrück Wiss, Weilerswist 2003. ISBN 3-934730-69-8 .
  • Ludger Heidbrink, Alfred Hirsch (ed.): Responsibility in civil society: To the boom of a contradicting principle . Campus, Frankfurt 2006, ISBN 3-593-38010-2 .
  • Ludger Heidbrink, Alfred Hirsch (ed.): State without responsibility? On the change in the tasks of the state and politics . Campus, Frankfurt 2007, ISBN 978-3-593-38217-3 .
  • Ludger Heidbrink, Alfred Hirsch (ed.): Responsibility as a market economy principle. On the relationship between morality and economy . Campus, Frankfurt 2008, ISBN 978-3-593-38639-3 .
  • Ludger Honnefelder , Matthias C. Schmidt (Ed.): What does responsibility mean today? Schoeningh, Paderborn 2008, ISBN 978-3-506-76318-1 .
  • Roman Ingarden : About responsibility. Your ontic foundations. Reclam, Stuttgart 1970.
  • Hans Jonas : The principle of responsibility . Attempting ethics for technological civilization . Insel, Frankfurt am Main 1979. (New edition: Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1989, ISBN 3-518-22005-5 )
  • Jan Henrik Klement : Responsibility. Function and legitimation of a term in public law (= basics of jurisprudence . Volume 8). Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2006, ISBN 978-3-16-149156-6 (Dissertation University of Gießen 2006, XXIII, 631 pages, 24 cm).
  • Elisabeth Kraus: From the fission of uranium to the Göttingen Declaration: Otto Hahn, Werner Heisenberg, Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker and the responsibility of the scientist. Foreword by Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker . Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2001, ISBN 3-8260-1987-3 .
  • Hans Lenk and Matthias Maring: Responsibility. In: Historical Dictionary of Philosophy. Darmstadt 2001, Vol. 11, Col. 569-575.
  • John Randolph Lucas: Responsibility . Oxford University Press, Oxford 1993, Clarendon Press 1995 ( online )
  • Matthias Maring (Ed.): Responsibility in Technology and Economics . Universitätsverlag Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe 2008, ISBN 978-3-86644-296-2 . ( online )
  • Matthias Maring (Ed.): Case studies on ethics in science, economy, technology and society . Universitätsverlag Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe 2011, ISBN 978-3-86644-608-3 ( online ; PDF; 4.3 MB)
  • HA Mieg: Responsibility: Moral motivation and coping with social complexity . West German publishing house, Opladen 1994.
  • Julian Nida-Rümelin : Responsibility . Reclam, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-15-018829-3 .
  • Georg Picht : The concept of responsibility. In: Georg Picht: Truth, Reason, Responsibility. Philosophical Studies . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1969/2004 , ISBN 3-608-91835-3 , pp. 318-342.
  • Ulrich Pothast : Freedom and Responsibility. A debate that does not want to - and cannot die either . Klostermann, Frankfurt 2011, ISBN 978-3-465-04130-6 .
  • Wolfdietrich Schmied-Kowarzik : Thinking out of historical responsibility: Pathways to practical philosophy . Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 1999, ISBN 3-8260-1579-7 .
  • Hans-Martin Schönherr-Mann : The power of responsibility . Alber, Freiburg / Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-495-48399-2 , pp. 1–32 (online, PDF; 122 kB)
  • Alfred Schüler: Responsibility. On the being and ethos of the person . Krailling, Wewel 1948.
  • Nicole A. Vincent, Ibo Van de Poel, Jeroen van den Hoven (eds.): Moral Responsibility: Beyond Free Will and Determinism. Springer, Dordrecht 2011, ISBN 978-94-007-1877-7 .
  • R. Jay Wallace: Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments . Harvard University Press, 1994, ISBN 0-674-76623-7 . (Paperback 1998)
  • Micha H. Werner: Keyword responsibility. In: Marcus Düwell, Christoph Hübenthal, Micha H. Werner (Eds.): Handbuch Ethik. Metzler, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-476-02124-6 , pp. 521-527.
  • Wolfgang Wieland : Responsibility - Principle of Ethics? Winter, Heidelberg 1999, ISBN 3-8253-0915-0 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Responsibility  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: responsibility  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Otfried Höffe : Lexicon of Ethics. Beck, Munich 1986, p. 263.
  2. Oswald Schwemmer . In: Jürgen Mittelstraß (Hrsg.): Encyclopedia Philosophy and Philosophy of Science. Four volume encyclopedia. Metzler, Stuttgart 1980-1996, Volume 4, pp. 499-501.
  3. ^ Eva Buddeberg: Responsibility in Discourse: Basic lines of a reconstructive-hermeneutic conception of moral responsibility following Hans Jonas, Karl-Otto Apel and Emmanuel Lévinas. De Gruyter, Berlin 2011, pp. 11–46.
  4. Peter Prechtl (Ed.): Metzler Philosophy Lexicon. 2nd Edition. Metzler, Stuttgart 2007, Lemma Responsibility.
  5. ^ Julian Nida-Rümelin: Responsibility. Reclam, Stuttgart 2011, p. 17.
  6. Elisabeth Ströker : Me and the others. The question of shared responsibility. Klostermann, Frankfurt 1984, p. 10.
  7. Walther Christoph Zimmerli : Does responsibility change with technical change? In: Hans Lenk, Günter Rophl (Hrsg.): Technology and ethics. 2nd Edition. Reclam, Stuttgart 1993, pp. 92-111, p. 105.
  8. ↑ take responsibility. In: Duden: The dictionary of origin. Etymology of the German language. Mannheim 2007.
  9. Duden: The dictionary of origin. Etymology of the German language. Mannheim 2007, responsible for Lemma.
  10. ^ Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm : German Dictionary. Volume 12, 1, Leipzig 1956, Col. 79-82.
  11. ^ Friedrich Kluge: Etymological dictionary of the German language . 23rd edition. De Gruyter, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-11-016392-6 (edited by Elmar Seebold).
  12. Jann Holl (Red.): Responsibility. In: HWPh . Volume 11, Basel 2001, p. 566.
  13. Kurt Bayertz: A Brief History of Responsibility. In: Kurt Bayertz (Ed.): Responsibility: Principle or Problem. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1995, p. 3.
  14. ^ Günter Banzhaf: Philosophy of Responsibility: Drafts - Developments - Perspectives. Winter, Heidelberg 2002, p. 14.
  15. Helmut Fahrenbach : A programmatic outline of the problem situation and systematic approaches to practical philosophy. In: Manfred Riedel (ed.): Rehabilitation of practical philosophy. Volume 1, Alber, Freiburg 1972, p. 44.
  16. ^ Günter Banzhaf: Philosophy of Responsibility: Drafts - Developments - Perspectives. Winter, Heidelberg 2002, pp. 180-181.
  17. ^ Karl-Otto Apel: The a priori of the communication community and the foundations of ethics: To the problem of a rational justification of ethics in the age of science. In: Transformation of Philosophy. Volume 2, Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 1973, p. 360; Similar: Wolfgang Kersting : Foreword. In: Ludger Heidbrink: Critique of Responsibility. On the limits of responsible action in complex contexts. Velbrück, Weilerswist 2003, p. 10.
  18. Günter Ropohl: New ways of being responsible for technology. In: Hans Lenk , Günter Ropohl (Hrsg.): Technology and ethics. 2nd Edition. Stuttgart, p. 157.
  19. ^ Heinrich Henkel: Introduction to the philosophy of law. 2nd Edition. Beck, Munich 1977, p. 268.
  20. ^ Johannes Schwartländer: Responsibility. In: Hermann Krings, Hans Michael Baumgartner, Christoph Wild (eds.): Handbook of basic philosophical concepts. Kösel, Munich 1974, p. 1582.
  21. ^ Günter Banzhaf: Philosophy of Responsibility: Drafts - Developments - Perspectives. Winter, Heidelberg 2002, p. 159.
  22. ^ Christian Müller: Ethics of responsibility. In: Annemarie Pieper (Ed.): History of the newer ethics. 2, Francke (UTB), Tübingen, Basel 1992, p. 107.
  23. ^ Günter Banzhaf: Philosophy of Responsibility: Drafts - Developments - Perspectives. Winter, Heidelberg 2002, pp. 145-148.
  24. Georg Picht: The concept of responsibility. In: ders .: Truth, Reason, Responsibility. Philosophical Studies. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1969/2004, p. 320.
  25. ^ Julian Nida-Rümelin : Responsibility. Reclam, Stuttgart 2011, p. 5.
  26. ^ Johannes Schwartländer: Responsibility. In: Hermann Krings , Hans Michael Baumgartner , Christoph Wild (eds.): Handbook of basic philosophical concepts. Kösel, Munich 1974, p. 1578.
  27. ^ Christian Müller: Ethics of responsibility. In: Annemarie Pieper (Ed.): History of the newer ethics. Volume 2, Francke (UTB), Tübingen / Basel 1992, p. 105.
  28. Wilhelm Weischedel: The essence of responsibility. 1933. (Reprint: Klostermann, Frankfurt 1972, p. 38).
  29. Kurt Bayertz: A Brief History of the Origin of Responsibility. In: ders .: Responsibility. Principle or problem? Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1995, p. 8.
  30. ^ Günter Banzhaf: Philosophy of Responsibility: Drafts - Developments - Perspectives. Winter, Heidelberg 2002, p. 162.
  31. ^ Knud E. Løgstrup : Responsibility. In: Religion Past and Present . Vol. VI, Tübingen 1962, Col. 1255.
  32. Hans Jonas: The principle of responsibility. Attempting ethics for technological civilization. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 1979, new edition 1984, p. 400.
  33. Günter Ropohl: Risk in principle, responsibility. In: Ethics and Social Sciences. 5 (1994), pp. 109-120, quoted from Micha H. Werner: Discourse ethics as maxim ethics: From the justification of principles to action orientation. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2003, p. 30.
  34. ^ The dissertation by Wilhelm Weischedel: The essence of responsibility. written by Martin Heidegger , from 1933 (reprint Klostermann, Frankfurt 1972), is the first German-language monograph on the subject; the structure can be found in the table of contents and throughout the text.
  35. Pavel Baran: Responsibility. In: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): European encyclopedia on philosophy and sciences. Volume 4, Meiner, Hamburg 1990, pp. 690-694.
  36. H. L. Hart: Punishment and Responsibility. Essays in the Philosophy of Law. Oxford University Press, Oxford 1968.
  37. Micha H. Werner: Dimensions of Responsibility: A workshop report on the ethics of the future by Hans Jonas. In: Dietrich Böhler (Ed.): Ethics for the future: In discourse with Hans Jonas. Beck, Munich 1994, pp. 303-338.
  38. Karl Jaspers: The question of guilt. From the political liability of Germany. 1946. (Reprint: 2nd edition. Piper, Munich 1999).
  39. ^ Otfried Höffe: Morality as the price of modernity. Beck, Munich 1993, p. 21.
  40. ^ Karl-Otto Apel: The a priori of the communication community and the foundations of ethics: To the problem of a rational justification of ethics in the age of science. In: Transformation of Philosophy. Volume 2, Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 1973, p. 360.
  41. ^ Walter L. Bühl: Responsibility for social systems. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1998, p. 29.
  42. Hans Lenk: About concepts of responsibility and the problem of responsibility in technology. In: Hans Lenk, Günter Ropohl (Hrsg.): Technology and ethics. 2nd Edition. Reclam, Stuttgart 1993, p. 119.
  43. Ludger Heidbrink: The new in responsibility. In: Peter Seele (Ed.): Philosophy of the New , Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft Darmstadt 2008, ISBN 978-3-534-21446-4 , pp. 132–149, here: pp. 139 f.
  44. Ulrich Pothast speaks of “classical meaning” and refers to Descartes and Kant, in: Freedom and Responsibility: A Debate That Doesn't Want to Die - and Can't Die , Klostermann, Frankfurt 2011, p. 66.
  45. Jürgen Habermas: Problems of free will. In: Tobias Müller, Thomas M. Schmidt (Eds.): So I think I am I ?: the self between neurobiology, philosophy and religion. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2011, p. 130.
  46. Michael Pauen : Freedom, Guilt, Responsibility. Philosophical considerations and empirical findings. In: Gunnar Duttge (Ed.): The I and its brain. Göttingen 2009, p. 78.
  47. Jürgen Habermas: The language game responsible authorship. Problems of free will. In: Peter Janich (Ed.): Naturalism and image of man. German yearbook for philosophy. Volume 1, Hamburg 2008, p. 16.
  48. Georg Picht: The concept of responsibility. In: ders .: Truth, Reason, Responsibility. Philosophical Studies. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1969/2004, p. 321.
  49. Georg Picht: The concept of responsibility. In: ders .: Truth, Reason, Responsibility. Philosophical Studies. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1969/2004, p. 342.
  50. Not to be confused with libertarianism in political philosophy.
  51. Brigitte Falkenburg : Myth determinism. How much does brain research explain to us? Springer, Berlin 2012, 27.
  52. ^ Galen Strawson: The Impossibility of Moral Responsibility. In: Philosophical Studies. 75: 5-24 (1994).
  53. Ted Honderich: How free are you? the determinism problem. 2nd Edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2002.
  54. Derk Pereboom: Living Without Free Will. Cambridge University Press, New York 2001.
  55. In German-speaking countries, this position can be found with Barbara Guckes: Is freedom an illusion? - A metaphysical investigation. Mentis, Paderborn 2003.
  56. ^ Daniel Dennett: Freedom Evolves. Viking Press, New York 2003.
  57. ^ Harry G. Frankfurt: Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility. In: Journal of Philosophy. 66 (23/1969), pp. 829-839.
  58. ^ John Martin Fischer: The Metaphysics of Free Will: An Essay on Control. Wiley-Blackwell 1994, pp. 178ff.
  59. ^ John Martin Fischer, Mark Ravizza: Responsibility and Control: A Theory of Moral Responsibility. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1998.
  60. ^ Peter F. Strawson: Freedom and Resentment. original: In: Proceedings of the British Academy. 48, pp. 1-25 (1962). Reprinted in: John Martin Fischer, Mark Ravizza (Eds.): Perspectives on Moral Responsibility. Cornell University Press, 1993.
  61. Julian Nida-Rümelin: About human freedom. Reclam, Stuttgart 2005, p. 26.
  62. Michael Pauen: Freedom and Responsibility. Will, determinism and the concept of the person. In:. General journal of philosophy. 2001, pp. 23-44.
  63. ^ Moritz Schlick: When are people responsible? (Chapter VII of: Questions of Ethics, Vienna 1930) In: Ulrich Pothast (Hrsg.): Seminar: Free action and determinism. 2nd Edition. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt a. M. 1988, pp. 157-168.
  64. David Hume, An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 1748, An Inquiry into the Human Mind. Meiner, Hamburg 1993.
  65. Ingeborg Breuer: Is responsibility an illusion? Morality, guilt, punishment and the human image of brain researchers. Broadcast Studiozeit des Deutschlandfunk on October 20, 2011, accessed on April 5, 2013. In detail from the perspective of the naturalistic position, the philosophical dissertation by Michel Friedman: Guiltless Responsibility: Requirements of brain research for ethics and criminal law. Lang, Frankfurt 2010; Similarly, the doctor Wolfgang Seidel: The ethical brain: The determined will and personal responsibility. Springer, Berlin 2009.
  66. Brigitte Falkenburg : Myth determinism. How much does brain research explain to us? . Springer, Berlin 2012.
  67. Ansgar Beckermann: Free Will - Everything Illusion? (PDF; 164 kB), In: S. Barton (Ed.): ... because it is dangerous for the general public! Nomos, Baden-Baden 2006, pp. 293-307.
  68. In law, a moral person is sometimes also understood as an association of persons.
  69. Immanuel Kant : Metaphysics of Morals . Introduction IV, B 22 ( AA VI, p. 223. ).
  70. Georg Picht: The concept of responsibility. In: ders .: Truth, Reason, Responsibility. Philosophical Studies. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1969/2004, p. 325.
  71. Gertrud Number-Winkler: Responsibility. In: Lexicon of Business Ethics . Herder, Freiburg 1993, Sp. 1185–1192, refers to F. Heider: Psychology of interpersonal relationships. Stuttgart 1977.
  72. ^ Klaus Günther: Guilt and communicative freedom: Studies on personal attribution of criminal injustice in the democratic constitutional state. Klostermann, Frankfurt 2005, p. 122.
  73. ^ Klaus Günther: Guilt and communicative freedom: Studies on personal attribution of criminal injustice in the democratic constitutional state. Klostermann, Frankfurt 2005, p. 129.
  74. Thomas Nagel: Moral Luck. In: Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society. Vol. 50, 1976, Suppl., Reprinted in: ders .: Mortal Questions. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1979.
  75. Bernard Williams: Moral Luck. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1981.
  76. Andrew Latus:  Moral luck. In: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy .
  77. ^ Dana K. Nelkin:  Moral Luck. In: Edward N. Zalta (Ed.): Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy .
  78. Bernhard Debatin: On the relationship between corporate and individual responsibility in mass communication. In: Adrian Holderegger (Ed.): Communication and media ethics: interdisciplinary perspectives. 3. Edition. Saint-Paul, Friborg 2004, p. 49.
  79. Bernd Carsten Stahl: The collective subject of responsibility (PDF; 96 kB), zfwu 1/2 (2000), p. 229 ( digitized version ).
  80. A more detailed account of the debate about individual responsibility and collective guilt can be found in: Michael Schefczyk: Responsibility for historical injustice, de Gruyter, Berlin 2012, Part C, 123-180.
  81. ^ Julian Nida-Rümelin: Responsibility. Reclam, Stuttgart 2011, Part II, pp. 130-141.
  82. ^ Matthias Maring: Collective and corporate responsibility. Conceptual and case studies from business, technology and everyday life. (Habilitation thesis), Lit-Verlag, Münster 2001, p. 1.
  83. ^ Robert Sugden: Team Preferences. In: Economics and Philosophy. 16 (2000), pp. 175-204.
  84. H.D. Lewis: Collective Responsibility. In: Larry May, Szacey Hoffman (Ed.): Collective Responsibility. five Decades of Debate in Theoretical and Applied Ethics. Rowman 6 Littlefield, Savage / Maryland 1991, pp. 17-33.
  85. ^ Margaret Gilbert: Collective Guilt and Collective Guilt Feelings. In: Journal of Ethics. 6 (2002), pp. 115-143.
  86. Ludger Heidbrink: Introduction. In: ders. (Ed.): Responsibility in civil society: To the boom of a contradicting principle. Campus, Frankfurt 2006, p. 21.
  87. Study Commission on the Future of Civic Engagement .
  88. German Bundestag: Report of the Study Commission “The Future of Civic Engagement”. Printed paper 14/8900 of June 3, 2002, p. 33.
  89. all quotations in this section from: Georg Picht: The concept of responsibility. In: ders .: Truth, Reason, Responsibility. Philosophical Studies. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1969/2004, pp. 328-331.
  90. Angela Merkel's speech to the Knesset in full: This is what Chancellor Angela Merkel said in front of the Knesset , Welt-online, March 18, 2008, accessed on January 28, 2012.
  91. ^ Karl-Otto Apel: The a priori of the communication community and the foundations of ethics: To the problem of a rational justification of ethics in the age of science. In: Transformation of Philosophy. Volume 2, Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 1973, pp. 358-435.
  92. Reiner Wimmer: Responsibility. In: Petra Kolmer, Armin G. Wildfeuer (Hrsg.): New manual of philosophical basic concepts. Alber, Freiburg 2011, p. 2318.
  93. Werner Krawietz: Globalization of Legal Responsibility? Attribution of responsibility in collective subjects from a norm and action theory perspective. In: Ludger Heidbrink, Alfred Hirsch (ed.): State without responsibility ?: on the change in the tasks of the state and politics. Campus, Frankfurt 2007, p. 310.
  94. Gerhard Kruhöffer: Faith and Responsibility: Basic Theological Questions Today. Lit-Verlag, Münster 2003, p. 13.
  95. Gerhard Kruhöfer: Faith and responsibility: basic theological questions today. Lit-Verlag, Münster 2003, pp. 20-22.
  96. Leo Baeck: The essence of Judaism. 5th edition. Kaufmann, Frankfurt 1926, p. 90 and p. 249–250.
  97. Martin Buber: Speech about the educational. In: ders .: Talking about education. 7th edition. Schneider, Heidelberg 1984, p. 48.
  98. Winfried Becker, Günter letter u. a. (Ed.): Lexicon of Christian Democracy in Germany. Paderborn 2002, p. 676.
  99. ^ Wolfgang Huber: Social ethics as responsibility ethics. In: Festgabe für Stephan H. Pfürtner, Ethos des Alltags. 1983, pp. 55–75, after: Martin Honecker: Introduction to theological ethics. Basics and basic concepts. de Gruyter, Berlin 2002, p. 337.
  100. Responsibility for life. An evangelical memorandum on questions of biomedicine. ( Memento of the original from December 24, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 142 kB), Vienna 2001, p. 18. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  101. Michael von Brück: Religious Pluralism and the Concept of God. On the relationship between comparative religious studies and theology. In: Miquel Siguan (ed.): Philosophia pacis. (PDF; 1.8 MB). Homenaje a Raimon Panikkar, SIMBOLO EDITORIAL, Madrid 1989, pp. 483-500.
  102. Ueda Shizuteru: Being - Nothing - World Responsibility in Zen Buddhism. In: Raimundo Panikkar, Walter Strolz (Ed.): The responsibility of humans for a habitable world in Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism. Herder, Freiburg 1985, pp. 37-58.
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