On Thursday 17th January Wotton’s society hosted Dr. Frank Curry, who came to deliver a talk titled, “What’s my duty when things go wrong? Individual responsibility and the misdeeds of the state.”
Having started the lecture by talking a bit about his career in philosophy, Dr. Curry then swiftly moved on to the topic for the evening, and discussed the differences between collective and individual responsibilities. He mentioned how in cases of the success of a group, every member of the said group deserves praise no matter how small their individual action was. Dr. Curry then moved on to give some more concrete examples, using the analogy of the Avengers saving a drowning person. He then segued to the concept of blame, and how if an organization, where a certain member is given veto powers, cannot complete a task because of the veto imposed by the member, that person cannot be blamed for the failure of the group since it’s a defect within the structure itself. Dr. Curry again used the analogy of the Avengers to help understand the idea.
An insightful Q&A followed the lecture where some of the speaker’s ideas were challenged by the students, resulting in a complex and interesting debate. Furthermore, some more concrete examples of duty and facing the misdeeds of the state were discussed, most notably Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his opposition to the Nazi regime.