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Leviathan on a LeashA Theory of State Responsibility$
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Sean Fleming

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691206462

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691206462.001.0001

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The Question of Ownership

(p.72) 3 Attribution
Leviathan on a Leash

Sean Fleming

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses issues of ownership, such as whether the actions of dictators and rogue officials ought to be attributed to states and whether states can commit crimes. With some modifications, Thomas Hobbes' account of attribution provides an intuitive and compelling answer to the Question of Ownership: an action counts as an act of state if and only if the agent who performed it was an authorized representative of the state. The chapter distinguishes two types of responsibilities and two corresponding modes of attribution. Whereas general responsibilities are attributed to states according to their types, personal responsibilities are attributed to states according to the actions of their authorized representatives. The chapter then divides Hobbes' account of attribution into its two components: representation and authorization.

Keywords:   ownership, states, Thomas Hobbes, attribution, authorized representatives, general responsibilities, personal responsibilities, representation, authorization, state responsibility

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