Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




It is often challenging to fairly distribute responsibility for harms that result from collective wrongdoing. Few object to blaming an agent for making a contribution to wrongdoing, but it is far more controversial to attribute fault to one agent for the contributions made by other participants in collective wrongdoing. I argue that we ought to distribute co-responsibility for collective wrongdoing only to those who authorize the offending actions, whether expressly or tacitly. By authorizing another to carry out wrongdoing on one's behalf, one becomes to blame for the unjustified harm caused by one's agent or agents. In this dissertation, I articulate an authorization theory of distributing collective or shared responsibility and defend it against competing alternatives. I further argue that authorization serves as a fairer standard for distributing individual liability for collective crimes than existing norms in international law employed by the ad hoc tribunals or International Criminal Court.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.