Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: October 03, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412956253 | Print ISBN: 9781412916707 | Online ISBN: 9781412956253| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Seth Gitter & E. J. Masicampo
Accountability is the condition of having to answer, explain, or justify one's actions or beliefs to another. It often includes the possibility that you will be held responsible and punished if your acts cannot be justified, or rewarded if your actions are justified. Accountability is a composite of numerous factors: being held responsible for one's actions, presence of another, being identifiable as an actor, evaluation by an audience, and providing validation for one's behavior. The most salient component of accountability, the idea that we are responsible for our actions, is central to a long-standing debate among philosophers and psychologists: that of determinism versus free will. Determinism suggests that people act based on cause-and-effect relationships and therefore could not have acted any differently than what they actually did, whereas theories of free will suggest that people act of their own volition. Proponents of free will admit that genetics and environment influence ...