2Responsibility: a Modern Concept

2.1. The modern formation of responsibility

The determination of the extension of the notion of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) can be determined according to the definition of the concept of responsibility. This appears to be a simple operation given the automatic understanding of it that the readers surely possess. However, the constant increase in its usage in different sectors, in order to respond to the challenges related to innovation, has generated a proliferation of meanings and acceptions that makes such an operation not an easy matter.

The first questions that arise when talking about responsibility often are “who is responsible”, “what he is responsible for” and “to what extent”? However, the hermeneutical difficulty can be detected not mainly in the identification of an agent, or in the attribution of an action to its actor, but rather in the plurality of meanings that responsibility entails. The definition of whom, or for what we are responsible, entails different lexical and semantic orders, as well as different social spheres, allowing room for plural and often ambiguous interpretations.

According to the New Oxford Shorter [BRO 93] “responsibility is a charge, trust or duty, for which one is responsible; a person for whom or thing for which one is responsible”. In the literature, we find an extensive recurrence of the term, but rarely an agreement on what it means to be responsible. On the contrary, we find a shared ...

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