Sunday, May 5, 2013

#125 / Historical Responsibility

Query whether our judgment about historical responsibility is different from our judgment about legal responsibility, and whether a "but for" assignment of responsibility is appropriate in the context of judging historical events: 

History is written to satisfy not only the need for explanation, but also the desire to identify and assess contributions made by historical figures to changes of importance; to triumphs and disasters, and to human happiness or suffering. This assessment involves tracing "consequences," effects," or "results," and these are more frequently referred to than "causes" which has a primarily diagnostic or explanatory ring. In one sense of 'responsibility,' the historian determines the responsibility of human beings for certain types of change; and sometimes he does this with an eye to praising or blaming or passing other forms of moral judgment. But this need not be so; the historian, though concerned to trace the consequences of human action, need not be a moralist.  
               Causation In The Law, Hart and HonorĂ©

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