The word responsibility means the obligation to answer for actions. Often this means answering to authority. Responsibility is also loosely used as the recognition that in order to achieve one's purposes, one must act oneself ("take responsibility") rather than expecting others to do something (compare initiative).
In ethics, moral responsibility is primarily the responsibility related to actions and their consequences in social relations. It generally concerns the harm caused to an individual, a group or the entire society by the actions or inactions of another individual, group or entire society. This is the mechanism by which blame can be placed, and influences many important social constructs, such as prosecution under the legal system.
The term often refers to a system of principles and judgments shared by cultural, religious, and philosophical concepts and beliefs, by which humans subjectively determine whether given actions are right or wrong. These concepts and beliefs are often generalized and codified by a culture or group, and thus serve to regulate the behavior of its members. Conformity to such codification may also be called morality, and the group may depend on widespread conformity to such codes for its continued existence. A "moral" may be a particular principle (in the summarized form) as applied in a given situation.
The term also appears in the discussion of subjects such as determinism and other world views that deny freewill, since without such freedom it is difficult to be blamed for one's actions, and without this moral responsibility the nature of punishment and ethics comes into question.
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