There are at least two themes in Paul Ricoeur’s recent essay, ‘The Concept of Responsibility: An Essay in Semantic Analysis’ (Ricoeur 2000). The first of these is in the foreground of the essay. It concerns how the concept of responsibility has evolved in recent times from a delimited juridical notion to a much broader moral concept. The second theme remains in the background of the essay and alludes to theses that Ricoeur has developed in his book, Oneself as Another (Ricoeur 1992). This theme concerns how responsibility relates to personal and moral identity and how it emerges dialectically from social formation and from an eliminable subjectivity. In this paper I will explicate Ricoeur’s first theme and also explore how the second theme might solve the problem of the unassumable scope and range of our responsibilities which the first theme might suggest.
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