Thinking Out Loud Podcasts

Collective Responsibility

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What is collective responsibility? Does an individual have a responsibility to the collective? Does the collective have a responsibility to the individual? Is there really such a thing as "the collective"? Is the whole really greater than the sum of its parts? Are there not just individuals? On the other hand, is there really such a thing as a truly separate individual? Are we not all interconnected? Does accepting the benefits of group membership automatically impose some responsibilities on the individual toward the group? Does membership impart responsibility for the decisions of the group even if a particular member disagreed with those decisions? Must one renounce membership in a group in order to be absolved of collective responsibility for the group? If you are a member of a team, what are your responsibilities toward the other team members? What is your responsibility toward the team as a whole? What is your responsibility toward the mission of the team? What if these responsibilities conflict? What role does group identity play in collective responsibility? Are we responsible for decisions of collectives that we inherit such as previous generations or previous administrations? Is there not a distinction between assuming responsibility and assigning responsibility? Can responsibility be coerced? Doesn't responsibility have to be voluntary on at least some level, for it to be true responsibility? Does collective responsibility necessarily mean sacrificing individuality? How is the welfare of the individual related to the good of the group? Does membership in a group dilute individual responsibility? What is the role of dissent in a group and how does it relate to collective responsibility? Is not the final measure of responsibility in the action that is taken? Are we not today facing problems on such a scale that collective global action will be required for our very survival? Are we capable of exercising such collective responsibility?


Listen to the podcast:

Click to download in MP3 format (6.55MB)

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TOL Mission Statement


We engage together in, and record for broadcast, our earnest philosophical dialogues, so that we may:


  1. Enhance our understanding of life and the world in which we live.
  2. Stimulate intellectual curiosity and philosophical exploration in ourselves and others.
  3. Strengthen our intellectual skills of critical thinking and sound reasoning.
  4. Provide a forum for a diversity of thought from a broad spectrum of independent thinkers.
  5. Connect with and form a network among thoughtful and caring individuals, everywhere.
  6. Enjoy the pleasures of intellectually stimulating and philosophically insightful company.
  7. Promote the pursuit of wisdom in everyone.


TOL Guiding Principles


Civility - Treat everyone with respect. Use helpful, not hurtful language. Listen carefully and patiently when someone else is speaking.

Sincerity - Honest opinions and innocent questions are more valuable than "scoring points" or "looking smart". Strive for intellectual honesty.

Soundness - Favor sound reasoning over emotional rhetoric or sophomoric obfuscation.

Succinctness - Strive to be brief and to the point using understandable language. Speak loud and clear so others can hear.


TOL Rules of Discourse


Wait to be called on before speaking: Please don't just jump in. Restrain your enthusiasm. Hold that thought. Wait your turn.

One speaker at a time: No side conversations, comments, or noises please. They will be picked up by the recorder.

Address ideas, not individuals: Refrain from one-on-one debates, exchanges, or cross-examination. Focus on the message not the messenger.

Limit your time: Avoid the temptation to preach, teach, or lecture. Remember, others are waiting for their turn as well.

Yield to the moderator: - Always gracefully return the microphone back to moderator. Let the moderator determine who speaks next.


TOL Tips & Techniques


Listen carefully to what is being said and look for:


Assumptions that need to be examined.

Terms that need to be defined.

Inconsistencies that need to be resolved.

Distinctions that need to be made.

Patterns and relationships that emerge.


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