Current Projects: Accountability as a Virtue
Baylor Institute for Religion and The Templeton Foundation Religion Trust
The contemporary world talks constantly about accountability. Citizens want politicians to be accountable. Business executives are held accountable to the shareholders for how they run companies. The lack of accountability is devastating for an organization, whether that be a church, like the Roman Catholic Church that has been roiled by sex abuse scandals and cover-ups, or a school, such as Michigan State University, which has been rocked by the behavior of a physician convicted of sexually abusing gymnasts. This concern for accountability is important and justified. However, most of the talk about accountability focuses on holding people accountable. Often, this amounts simply to punishing someone who has been irresponsible. However, Baylor philosopher C. Stephen Evans, along with a multi-disciplinary team of researchers, thinks that it is equally important to think about the importance of accepting accountability. After all, we think punishment is needed precisely in cases where people have tried to evade being accountable. It seems important then to think about what it means to welcome accountability, to recognize that we are all accountable in various ways, and that it is good to embrace being held accountable when certain conditions are present. Evans’ team then proposes to study accountability as a virtue, an excellence that contributes to human flourishing.