Bodies and categories

If an individual elects to be part of a political body, then that individual shares responsibility for those who act on behalf of that body. It is fair to hold people responsible for what their political bodies do.

But if you classify a person as belonging to some category of person, and on that basis hold that person responsible for the actions of others who (according to you) also belong to that category, you are committing a grave sin against liberalism.

The line between belonging to a political body and being assigned to a category is a blurry and crooked one. No simple formulas exist to sharpen it. The line is not traced along the boundaries explicit declarations of membership: people are often cagy or deluded about the political significance of their actions. But neither are the lines those gridded out by ideology: every theorist has his correct schema.

The lines must be surveyed case by case through dialogue between the disputants.

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