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Global Individual Responsibility


With close to 250 million international migrants, and almost 65 million refugees and displaced people, the topic of newcomer integration has become one of the most pressing issues of our time. Private individuals and organizations in the receiving countries have helped refugees in different ways, yet their actions have often been considered goodwill — voluntarism, charity, and philanthropic initiatives — rather than an individual responsibility. What should be the role of individuals in newcomer integration? Is there an individual responsibility and what could it demand from individual agents?

Responsibility is a core concept in political philosophy, yet its meaning has remained complex. Drawing on the case study of refugee integration, this project seeks to develop an interdisciplinary understanding of individual responsibility in a global era.

The project will provide an in-depth analysis of the philosophical, psychological, historical, and legal perspectives on global individual responsibility. Philosophically, the project will develop normative justifications for holding individuals responsible for global challenges. From a social-psychological perspective, the project aims to examine factors that may encourage individual responsibility and explore the connection between government competence and individual responsibility. Historically, the project will identify successful and failed cases of individuals assuming responsibility for global challenges. Legally, the project will analyze to what extent (international) law regulates issues of individual responsibility and the legal implications of recognizing a concept of “global responsibility”. On the whole, the project develops a comprehensive understanding of individual responsibility in a global era.