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date: 24 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines what purports to be a core standing problem in the explanation of genocide — how to account for the large number of people willing to participate in mass murders. It contends that research in social psychology has already answered the question of ‘perpetrator production’. Recruiting people to be perpetrators proves to be alarmingly easy. In addition, the application of social psychology to genocide has also become entangled in an ongoing moral debate, a debate that focuses on whether an emphasis on the extrinsic predictors of behaviour fits with a sense that people should be held morally and legally responsible for the choices they make. The discussion also argues that social psychology neither casts a pall of inevitability over such events nor provides moral exculpation for those involved.

Keywords: mass murder, perpetrator production, social psychology, moral responsibility, legal responsibility

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