Responsability makes sense only in human systems, i.e. for individuals in their multiple social roles.
However the systemic approach vastly modifies and amplifies the scope of the concept, as it modifies and amplifies our worldview. An example is the sense of ecological responsability which is starting to pervade ever vaster social groups and individuals. This is a result of our recent awareness of our growing power to impair ecosystems at any level through our careless or abusive activities… and to find ourselves victims of our own irresponsible behavior.
Another example is our new understanding of the ways so many issues and situations are becoming evermore complex due to growing and accelerating short and long distance interactions resulting from our enhanced means of action and long distance transport and communication capabilities.
At the same time the scope of our multiplied potential responsabililities is becoming more and more wide-ranging, it also becomes more diffuse. Most people remain unaware of many consequences of their activities, mainly because these do not become immediately and widely perceptible. Other people chose to ignore some of their responsabilities for personal interest reasons and in the belief that that will be able to escape scrutiny and punishment of abuse whose results are not readily obvious (the so-called "tragedy of the commons"), or whose victims are unable to defend themselves.
What still generally lacks in our new situation is the time dimension. We have lost much of the trans-generational sense of responsability proper to many archaic and traditional societies. Until now, the long term view has generally not entered individual mentalities and the evolutive acceleration in our human systems transformations could easily overwhelm us.
True sense of responsability must now also become systemic, in space and time. Already in 1979, Sir G. VICKERS, an outstanding systemist and former President of the ISSS, wrote: "Statements of human rights must be replaced by statements of human responsability if we are to make the world viable" (1979, p.371)… Let us say, if not replaced, at least complemented with!
The most general nature and extension of human responsibility in individual and collective terms has been deeply researched recently by T. ECIMOVIC, M. MULEJ and collaborators, in their work "systems thinking and climate change", published at the University of Maribor, Slovenia (2002)
It could be said that personal responsibility must now include not only ethical one, but also deeper and wider understanding of the general issues at stake.
- 1) General information
- 2) Methodology or model
- 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
- 4) Human sciences
- 5) Discipline oriented
To cite this page, please use the following information:
Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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