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Taking responsibility

  1. May 29, 2014 #1
    I just saw some news article about Mitt Romney calling for Obama to "take responsibility for his failures."

    I hate when some one says "you need to take responsibility". No one ever "takes responsibility" for good things that happen. That's called taking credit.

    In fact, no body ever "takes responsibility". Taking responsibility in something that people in a position of power say to those under them as a back handed way of blaming them.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 29, 2014 #2


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    You need to take responsibility for writing a crummy post.

    I take responsibility for my actions. That might be a counterpoint. In fact, I always do it. Sometimes I'm embarrassed, other times I'm proud, and still other times I'm forced to admit that, evidence suggests, I should've taken different action.

    As far as I know, there's only one convention that allows you NOT to take responsibility for your actions, and that is the system of vicarious redemption (or scapegoatism). It's the founding principle of the world's largest religion.
  4. May 29, 2014 #3
    Give me an example. Tell me about some time you've used the words "I take responsibility for" and what you did to follow up.
  5. May 29, 2014 #4


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    What do you mean "follow up"? I take full responsibility for my choice to drive to work today.
  6. May 29, 2014 #5
    That's two of us.

    But have you ever used "I take full responsibility" in a sentence when actually speaking with some one? If so, please go into detail and I'll demonstrate my point.
  7. May 29, 2014 #6


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    Everyone makes mistakes. Taking responsibility just means admitting you made the mistake or had ultimate control and taking the corrective action.

    Sometimes the person responsible (primarily) is not the person who made the mistake: but that only ever goes up, not down (as a matter of ethics).

    Indeed, you have your own example backwards: Obama is at the top of the chain of command, not Romney.

    This is a common subject in ethics classes. One thing you learn from case studies is that "responsibility" is not a choice, it is a matter of organizational structure. And even if a person tries to avoid taking responsibility, responsibility will often take them. So speaking in general terms, Obama doesn't need to take responsibility in order to have responsibility.
    Last edited: May 29, 2014
  8. May 29, 2014 #7
    I agree, admitting mistakes is great. I think we've both said "I messed up", "I made a mistake", or some expletive implying we admit our mistake.

    My point is nobody says "I take responsibility for 'insert mistake' ".

    My point is, the only time we hear the expression "take responsibility" is when one person is blaming some one else. It's a way to play the finger pointing game while not sounding too petty.

    It's a politically savvy way of saying "it's all your fault!".
  9. May 29, 2014 #8


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    Not true, at least in the UK. (US politics isn't a very good example of ethical behavour IMO!)

    It's quite common for the leader of an organization to take responsibility for the consequences of some mistake made by somebody who works for them. There is a proverbial saying the the UK (originally from the Royal Navy), "It happened on my watch".

    A recent UK example from sport (also not often a good example of ethics!): http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/26742897
  10. May 29, 2014 #9


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    Not only do I not agree, but what does it matter? "I made a mistake" and "I take responsibility" are essentially the same statement, so it shouldn't matter which you use.

    Try googling the phrase "i take full responsibility" with quotes. One of the first of the 230,000,000 hits is Hillary Clinton using the exact phrase regarding the Benghazi security lapse. It's a great example: regardless of whether she actually knew about the problem, she runs the department responsible, therefore she is responsible. And saying it is taking/accepting/acknowledging that responsibility.

    Sorry, but you're way wrong here.
  11. May 29, 2014 #10

    I just googled what you recommended and the first thing that comes up is this guy talking bout Hilary, as you said.

    Let's just say he's arguing my point more eloquently than I do.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 29, 2014
  12. May 29, 2014 #11
    As expected, this thread has degenerated in a useless back-and-forth argument. Therefore, it is now locked.
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