Between the coerced and capable individual: the responsibility of the social entrepreneur. Elements for a phenomenological reflection

Didier Chabanet and Emmanuel d’Hombres


Social entrepreneurship leads us towards two types of responsibility, the first as a type of obligation which refers to the juridical and viewpoints, and the second of a cosmological type, pointing towards the domain of action and creation. Entrepreneurship as a practice in itself promotes primarily a cosmological responsibility, so that by contrast the social dimension of this practice refers to its obligatory aspect. In this article, we propose to revisit the genealogy of these two fundamental significations of responsibility. Both have been founded in Kantian philosophy. We propose to explore the impact and also the limit of their articulation within the social-entrepreneurial activity. We show that the first refers to several traditions of moral philosophy, suggesting various extensions of the concept, which forces us to question its operative value, and the second which we will illustrate with entrepreneurial discourse – has been promoted in recent times more by using the phenomenological and philosophy of action approaches. We finish by considering the prospect for social-entrepreneurs to break away from this procrastination between two types of responsibility in the current context, formerly anticipated by Hans Jonas. The current success of political ecology and sustainable development is a sign of this possibility. This context is now characterized by fear of the future in human action, all other things being equal.


Entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, responsibility, social, action, obligation.

Code JEL: M13, M14.