Responsibility or Accountibility?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

In this third part of this three part talk with Caroline Myss, someone I had never heard of before but found to be amazing, she goes into the distinction between being responsible and being accountable. She talks about how many people claim responsibility but in actuality are only doing so to pass off their behavior instead of changing it. In this view, responsibility is entirely self-serving as it explains away the problems. By owning or being responsible for, there is a distinct void of introspection or basic consciousness. Much better is accountability. By being accountable, you are being conscious of your actions and their potential causes and effects. In this way, accountability is the preemptive approach, whereas responsibility is the explicative post approach. I draw a very interesting parallel to western health's emphasis on reactive medicine, fixing problems by throwing drugs at symptoms. This is in contrast to a preemptive, active living, healthful approach to medicine which deals with the sources of the problems and symptoms.

This was the most notable point of this portion of the talk, primarily because I think I am entirely guilty of claiming responsibility for the express purpose of avoiding accountability.

To bring in a little quadrant, perspectival bent to this distinction, I think Responsibility can only be used in the "You" and "It/They" contexts, not the "I" context (upper-right and lower quadrants, not upper-left). Conversely, it makes sense that accountability can only be used in the "I" context, and not the "You" and "It/They" contexts (upper-left, not upper-right or lower quadrants). Therefore, others can determine whether or not You are responsible, but only you can determine whether or not you are accountable.

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