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Taking responsibility is a vital principle in life. The concept yields different interpretations from different disciplines. However, taking responsibility basically means being accountable. It is imperative to note that the act of being responsible is what distinguishes human beings from animals; human beings are responsible while animals are not (Meecham, 2011). Being human, we are responsible for all choices that we make in life. Unfortunately, many people seek to blame others when things are not going well in their lives. This happens even when the parties being blamed were not party to decisions that brought about the unfavorable consequences. As philosophers put it, any consequences in our lives result from some decision or lack of decision by us at a particular time in the past. It therefore follows that we should take responsibility for the repercussions of our own actions.
Several arguments have been brought forth, seeking to justify why we should be held accountable for our own actions. First, being responsible helps the members of the society to live harmoniously. When people are punished for their wrongful acts, it is less likely that they will repeat such acts again. Here, responsibility acts as an incentive to curb actions that are repugnant to morality in the society. On the contrary, failing to punish people for their unlawful acts undermines peace in the society since it provides them with an incentive to repeat the same mistakes.
Furthermore, taking responsibility helps us identify our mistakes and improve on them. This means that by blaming others for our own actions, we are unable to learn from our mistakes. This does not make us better people since we are more likely to repeat the same mistakes. It is important to note that the great achievers in life usually learn from their mistakes; every mistake is a life experience to them. This argument does not encourage us to make mistakes so that we can learn. Rather, we should avoid mistakes as much as possible but when we erroneously make them, we should embrace such moments and endeavor to do better in the future.
Another reason why we should be responsible for the consequences of our actions is that though we cannot tell with certainty the results of our actions, we are usually in a position to foresee and predict the outcomes. This implies that the repercussions of our actions are usually under our control. Moreover, other people have less control over our actions meaning that they ought not to be liable for them. Lastly, the principle of responsibility is such that the doer of an action should actually be liable. Many actions and life choices viz. career choices are personal. It therefore follows that it is an individual and not a multitude that should be held accountable.
Being responsible enables the members of the society to live harmoniously by ensuring justice. It also helps eliminate vices that are repugnant to morality. However, people should only be forced to be responsible for their actions and decisions if and only if such actions or decisions were free. If the person was acting under duress; was being forced by another person to do an action or to make a particular decision, then it is only fair if the partly influencing the action is held accountable for the repercussion. This means that duress is an important factor to consider while determining responsibility. Similarly, undue influence is important to consider while determining the person to be responsible for some repercussion. For instance, a doctor is said to possess undue influence over his patient. It is therefore expected that a patient will always follow the decision of the doctor. If the doctor makes a wrong prescription to a patient, who, after following that prescription, gets very sick, then the doctor should be liable for the action of the patient. It therefore means that there is always a stopping rule in determining responsibility.