Gertie wrote: ↑
June 27th, 2020, 3:45 am
However groups of individuals do organise in different ways to creature structures which enable group decisions to be made, including morally significant ones. And sometimes it's useful to talk about and treat a group as a morally responsible entity. When it comes to issues like compensation.
One may speak of a group as morally responsible entity IF all of its members have agreed to some decision procedure and consent in advance to abide by the resulting decisions. The group may be said, in that case, to "speak with one voice." Nearly every private organization in which membership is voluntary, from business corporations and partnerships to garden clubs and Kiwanis, satisfy that condition. Political societies do not.
In the case of slavery there is a generational factor which means the individuals involved in those governmental group decisions are long dead. But it is also true that the effects of their actions still impact people today.
They do, in a sense. For example, had there been no slavery there would (likely) be very few persons of African ancestry in the US today. But no actions of an ancestor determine, or limit in any way, the actions of his descendant today. Nothing my grandfather did or did not do, nor any injustice he may have suffered, can excuse or justify any action of mine today.
The American government can decide if it now feels a collective moral duty to try to address this via compensatory laws, grants, policies, affirmative action, tax breaks or whatever, in effect mitigating those inter-generational effects with specific actions. Or not.
The "American government" doesn't have feelings. Only certain people administering it do. If those people, deluded by the organic fallacy, decide to force present-day non-offenders to pay present-day non-victims for offenses committed by other persons 150 years ago, they act immorally, visiting punishments on persons who have committed no crime. That is a paradigm case of injustice.
The concepts of collective and intergenerational guilt derive from the "organic" conception of the structure of modern societies. That latter conception is factually false, and so are all the nonsensical beliefs that ensue from it.
Because a governmental group structure can enable individuals to collectively take effective moral actions in ways individuals acting individually can't.
By "enable," do you really mean "force"? Every individual is already enabled to donate any amount of money he wishes to any cause he chooses. What he can't do is force other to support his favorite charity. But of course, any policy can be made effective if force is feasible and permitted, e.g., slavery itself.