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Summary Intentionality is the power of the mind to be about, directed at, or to represent events, objects, properties and states of affairs.  The study of collective intentionality is the study of intentionality in the social context.  What is distinctive about the study of collective intentionality within the broader study of social interactions and structures is its focus on the conceptual and psychological features of joint or shared actions and attitudes, that is, actions and attitudes of (or apparent attributions of such to) groups or collectives, their relations to individual actions and attitudes, and their implications for the nature of social groups and their functioning.  It subsumes the study of collective action, responsibility, reasoning, thought, intention, emotion, phenomenology, decision-making, knowledge, trust, rationality, cooperation, competition, and related issues, as well as how these underpin social practices, organizations, conventions, institutions and social ontology.  Collective intentionality is a rapidly growing interdisciplinary area of research that draws on philosophy, logic, linguistics, cognitive science, sociology, computer science, psychology, economics, political science, legal theory, and cultural and evolutionary anthropology.
Key works Pioneering work by philosophers Raimo Tuomela (Tuomela & Miller 1988) and Margaret Gilbert (Gilbert 1990; Gilbert 1989) in the 1980s led to a rapid expansion of interest in joint action and intention in the 1990s, with important contributions by Michael Bratman (Bratman 1992; Bratman 1993) and John Searle (Searle 1990; Searle 1995; Searle 2009).  Tuomela, Gilbert and Searle offer non-reductive accounts of joint intention. Bratman, Miller (Miller 2001) and Ludwig (Ludwig 2007) offer reductive accounts. This has been attended by work on collective attitudes, reasoning, emotions, and so on more generally (Schmitt 2003).
Introductions Tollefsen 2004, Schweikard & Schmid 2012
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  1. M. Albert, D. Schmidtchen & S. Voigt (eds.) (forthcoming). Scientific Competition: Theory and Policy, Conferences on New Political Economy. Mohr Siebeck.
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  2. Cristina Becchio & Cesare Bertone (2004). Wittgenstein Running: Neural Mechanisms of Collective Intentionality and We-Mode. Consciousness and Cognition 13 (1):123-133.
  3. Jørn Bjerre (forthcoming). A New Foundation for the Social Sciences? Searle's Misreading of Durkheim. Philosophy of the Social Sciences:0048393114525860.
    The aim of John Searle’s philosophy of society is to provide a foundation for the social sciences. Arguing that the study of social reality needs to be based on a philosophy of language, Searle claims that sociology has little to offer since no sociologist ever took language seriously. Attacking Durkheim head-on, Searle not only claims that Durkheim’s project differs from his own but also that Durkheim’s sociology has serious shortcomings. Opposing Searle, this paper argues that Durkheim’s account of social reality (...)
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  4. Olle Blomberg, Joint Action and Aspectual Shapes.
    If the actions of several agents are to constitute a joint action, under what aspects can the agents represent the common goal G of those actions? This question reveals a hitherto unnoticed dilemma that several influential accounts of joint action must confront. Unless it is required that the agents represent G under the same aspect, the accounts fail to provide sufficient conditions for coordinated goal-directed joint action. However, if the agents must represent G under the same aspect, then the accounts (...)
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  5. Olle Blomberg (2011). Socially Extended Intentions-in-Action. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2 (2):335-353.
    According to a widely accepted constraint on the content of intentions, here called the exclusivity constraint, one cannot intend to perform another agent’s action, even if one might be able to intend that she performs it. For example, while one can intend that one’s guest leaves before midnight, one cannot intend to perform her act of leaving. However, Deborah Tollefsen’s (2005) account of joint activity requires participants to have intentions-in-action (in John Searle’s (1983) sense) that violate this constraint. I argue (...)
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  6. Alban Bouvier (2010). Passive Consensus and Active Commitment in the Sciences. Episteme 7 (3):185-197.
    Gilbert (2000) examined the issue of collective intentionality in science. Her paper consisted of a conceptual analysis of the negative role of collective belief, consensus, and joint commitment in science, with a brief discussion of a case study investigated by Thagard (1998a, 1998b). I argue that Gilbert's concepts have to be refined to be empirically more relevant. Specifically, I distinguish between different kinds of joint commitments. I base my analysis on a close examination of Thagard's example, the discovery of Helicobacter (...)
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  7. Michael Bratman (1999). I Intend That We J. In Faces of Intention: Selected Essays on Intention and Agency. Cambridge University Press. 142–161.
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  8. Stephen Andrew Butterfill (2012). Joint Action and Development. Philosophical Quarterly 61 (246):23-47.
    Given the premise that joint action plays some role in explaining how humans come to understand minds, what could joint action be? Not what a leading account, Michael Bratman's, says it is. For on that account engaging in joint action involves sharing intentions and sharing intentions requires much of the understanding of minds whose development is supposed to be explained by appeal to joint action. This paper therefore offers an account of a different kind of joint action, an account compatible (...)
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  9. Sara Rachel Chant (2007). Unintentional Collective Action. Philosophical Explorations 10 (3):245 – 256.
    In this paper, I examine the manner in which analyses of the action of single agents have been pressed into service for constructing accounts of collective action. Specifically, I argue that the best analogy to collective action is a class of individual action that Carl Ginet has called 'aggregate action.' Furthermore, once we use aggregate action as a model of collective action, then we see that existing accounts of collective action have failed to accommodate an important class of (what I (...)
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  10. Sara Rachel Chant & Zachary Ernst (2007). Group Intentions as Equilibria. Philosophical Studies 133 (1):95 - 109.
    In this paper, we offer an analysis of ‘group intentions.’ On our proposal, group intentions should be understood as a state of equilibrium among the beliefs of the members of a group. Although the discussion in this paper is non-technical, the equilibrium concept is drawn from the formal theory of interactive epistemology due to Robert Aumann. The goal of this paper is to provide an analysis of group intentions that is informed by important work in economics and formal epistemology.
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  11. Matthew Dentith (2012). In Defence of Conspiracy Theories. Dissertation, University of Auckland
    The purpose of this doctoral project is to explore the epistemic issues surrounding the concept of the conspiracy theory and to advance the analysis and evaluation of the conspiracy theory as a mode of explanation. The candidate is interested in the circumstances under which inferring to the truth or likeliness of a given conspiracy theory is, or is not, warranted.
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  12. Jon Elster (1985). Rationality, Morality, and Collective Action. Ethics 96 (1):136-155.
  13. Anna Estany & David Casacuberta (2012). Contributions of Socially Distributed Cognition to Social Epistemology: The Case of Testimony. Eidos 16 (16):40-68.
    El objetivo de este artículo es analizar y revisar las normas que filosóficamente asociamos al proceso de testimonio, inquiriendo hasta qué puntoson0 consistentes con los conocimientos empíricos de las ciencias cognitivas.Tradicionalmente, el problema del testimonio surgía cuando, desde una epistemología de corte individualista, se suponía, siguiendo el dictum ya marcado en la Modernidad tanto por racionalistas como por empiristas, de que el conocimiento debía ser testado personalmente. Sin embargo, disciplinas y enfoques recientes, como la Cognición Socialmente Distribuida y la Epistemología (...)
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  14. Mattia Gallotti (2012). A Naturalistic Argument for the Irreducibility of Collective Intentionality. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 42 (1):3-30.
    According to many philosophers and scientists, human sociality is explained by our unique capacity to “share” attitudes with others. The conditions under which mental states are shared have been widely debated in the past two decades, focusing especially on the issue of their reducibility to individual intentionality and the place of collective intentions in the natural realm. It is not clear, however, to what extent these two issues are related and what methodologies of investigation are appropriate in each case. In (...)
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  15. Mattia Gallotti & Chris Frith (2013). Social Cognition in the We-Mode. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 17 (4):160-165.
  16. Mattia Gallotti & John Michael (eds.) (forthcoming). Perspectives on Social Ontology and Social Cognition. Springer.
  17. Ronald N. Giere (2004). The Problem of Agency in Scienti?C Distributed Cognitive Systems. Journal of Cognition and Culture 4 (3-4):759-774.
    From the perspective of cognitive science, it is illuminating to think of much contemporary scienti?c research as taking place in distributed cognitive systems. This is particularly true of large-scale experimental and observational systems such as the Hubble Telescope. Clark, Hutchins, Knorr-Cetina, and Latour insist or imply such a move requires expanding our notions of knowledge, mind, and even consciousness. Whether this is correct seems to me not a straightforward factual question. Rather, the issue seems to be how best to develop (...)
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  18. M. Gilbert (2002). Belief and Acceptance as Features of Groups. Protosociology 16:35-69.
  19. Margaret Gilbert (2006). Who's to Blame? Collective Moral Responsibility and its Implications for Group Members. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 30 (1):94–114.
  20. Margaret Gilbert (1989). On Social Facts. Routledge.
    In her analyses Gilbert discusses the work of such thinkers as Emile Durkheim, Georg Simmel, Max Weber, and David Lewis.
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  21. Todd M. Gureckis & Robert L. Goldstone (2006). Thinking in Groups. Pragmatics and Cognition 14 (2):293-311.
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  22. Sean Hagberg (1997). Edwin Hutchins, Cognition in the Wild. Minds and Machines 7 (3):456-460.
  23. Stevan Harnad (2005). Distributed Processes, Distributed Cognizers and Collaborative Cognition. [Journal (Paginated)] (in Press) 13 (3):01-514.
    Cognition is thinking; it feels like something to think, and only those who can feel can think. There are also things that thinkers can do. We know neither how thinkers can think nor how they are able do what they can do. We are waiting for cognitive science to discover how. Cognitive science does this by testing hypotheses about what processes can generate what doing (“know-how”) This is called the Turing Test. It cannot test whether a process can generate feeling, (...)
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  24. Jennifer Hornsby (1997). Collectives and Intentionality. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57 (2):429-434.
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  25. Bryce Huebner (2014). Macrocognition: A Theory of Distributed Minds and Collective Intentionality. OUP USA.
    This book develops a novel approach to distributed cognition and collective intentionality. It is argued that collective mentality should be only be posited where specialized subroutines are integrated in a way that yields skillful, goal-directed behavior that is sensitive to concerns that are relevant to a group as such.
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  26. Edwin Hutchins (1995). Cognition in the Wild. MIT Press.
  27. Tracy Isaacs (2006). Collective Moral Responsibility and Collective Intention. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 30 (1):59–73.
  28. Anita Konzelmann Ziv (2011). Self‐Evaluation – Philosophical Perspectives. In Anita Konzelmann Ziv, Keith Lehrer & Hans Bernhard Schmid (eds.), Self‐Evaluation – Affective and Social Grounds of Intentionality. Springer.
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  29. J. Krause (2012). Collective Intentionality and the (Re)Production of Social Norms: The Scope for a Critical Social Science. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 42 (3):323-355.
    This article aims to contribute to a critical ontology of social objects. Recent works on collective intentionality and norm-following neglect the question how free agents can be brought to collectively intend to x , although x is not in their own interest. By arguing for a natural disposition to empathic understanding and drawing on recent research in the neurosciences, this article outlines an ontological framework that extends collective intentionality to questions of oppression and status asymmetries. In a contribution to this (...)
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  30. Ben Laurence (2011). An Anscombian Approach to Collective Action. In Anton Ford, Jennifer Hornsby & Frederick Stoutland (eds.), Essays on Anscombe's Intention. Harvard University Press.
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  31. Shen-yi Liao (2014). Collective De Se Thoughts and Centered Worlds. Ratio 27 (1):17-31.
    Two lines of investigation into the nature of mental content have proceeded in parallel until now. The first looks at thoughts that are attributable to collectives, such as bands' beliefs and teams' desires. So far, philosophers who have written on collective belief, collective intentionality, etc. have primarily focused on third-personal attributions of thoughts to collectives. The second looks at de se, or self-locating, thoughts, such as beliefs and desires that are essentially about oneself. So far, philosophers who have written on (...)
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  32. Christian List, Three Kinds of Collective Attitudes.
    This paper offers a comparison of three different kinds of collective attitudes: aggregate, common, and corporate attitudes. They differ not only in their relationship to individual attitudes – e.g., whether they are “reducible” to individual attitudes – but also in the roles they play in relation to the collectives to which they are ascribed. The failure to distinguish them can lead to confusion, in informal talk as well as in the social sciences. So, the paper’s message is an appeal for (...)
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  33. Christian List (2003). Distributed Cognition: A Perspective From Social Choice Theory. In M. Albert, D. Schmidtchen & S. Voigt (eds.), Scientific Competition: Theory and Policy, Conferences on New Political Economy. Mohr Siebeck.
    Distributed cognition refers to processes which are (i) cognitive and (ii) distributed across multiple agents or devices rather than performed by a single agent. Distributed cognition has attracted interest in several fields ranging from sociology and law to computer science and the philosophy of science. In this paper, I discuss distributed cognition from a social-choice-theoretic perspective. Drawing on models of judgment aggregation, I address two questions. First, how can we model a group of individuals as a distributed cognitive system? Second, (...)
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  34. Christian List & Pettit (2012). Episteme Symposium on Group Agency: Replies to Gaus, Cariani, Sylvan, and Briggs. Episteme 9 (3):293-309.
    Discussion Christian List, Philip Pettit, Episteme , FirstView Article(s).
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  35. Christian List & Philip Pettit (2006). Group Agency and Supervenience. Southern Journal of Philosophy 44 (S1):85-105.
    Can groups be rational agents over and above their individual members? We argue that group agents are distinguished by their capacity to mimic the way in which individual agents act and that this capacity must 'supervene' on the group members' contributions. But what is the nature of this supervenience relation? Focusing on group judgments, we argue that, for a group to be rational, its judgment on a particular proposition cannot generally be a function of the members' individual judgments on that (...)
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  36. Christian List & Philip Pettit (2005). On the Many as One: A Reply to Kornhauser and Sager. Philosophy and Public Affairs 33 (4):377–390.
    In a recent paper on ‘The Many as One’, Lewis A. Kornhauser and Lawrence G. Sager look at an issue that we take to be of great importance in political theory. How far should groups in public life try to speak with one voice, and act with one mind? How far should public groups try to display what Ronald Dworkin calls integrity? We do not expect the many on the market to be integrated in this sense. But should we expect (...)
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  37. Christian List & Philip Pettit (2002). Aggregating Sets of Judgments: An Impossibility Result. Economics and Philosophy 18 (1):89-110.
    Suppose that the members of a group each hold a rational set of judgments on some interconnected questions, and imagine that the group itself has to form a collective, rational set of judgments on those questions. How should it go about dealing with this task? We argue that the question raised is subject to a difficulty that has recently been noticed in discussion of the doctrinal paradox in jurisprudence. And we show that there is a general impossibility theorem that that (...)
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  38. Kirk Ludwig (2014). The Ontology of Collective Action. In Sara Chant Frank Hindriks & Gerhard Preyer (eds.), From Individual to Collective Intentionality: New Essays. Oxford University Press.
    What is the ontology of collective action? I have in mind three connected questions. 1. Do the truth conditions of action sentences about groups require there to be group agents over and above individual agents? 2. Is there a difference, in this connection, between action sentences about informal groups that use plural noun phrases, such as ‘We pushed the car’ and ‘The women left the party early’, and action sentences about formal or institutional groups that use singular noun phrases, such (...)
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  39. Kirk Ludwig (2014). Proxy Agency in Collective Action. Noûs 48 (1):75-105.
    This paper gives an account of proxy agency in the context of collective action. It takes the case of a group announcing something by way of a spokesperson as an illustration. In proxy agency, it seems that one person or subgroup's doing something counts as or constitutes or is recognized as (tantamount to) another person or group's doing something. Proxy agency is pervasive in institutional action. It has been taken to be a straightforward counterexample to an appealing deflationary view of (...)
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  40. Kirk Ludwig (2007). Collective Intentional Behavior From the Standpoint of Semantics. Noûs 41 (3):355–393.
    This paper offers an analysis of the logical form of plural action sentences that shows that collective actions so ascribed are a matter of all members of a group contributing to bringing some event about. It then uses this as the basis for a reductive account of the content of we-intentions according to which what distinguishes we-intentions from I-intentions is that we-intentions are directed about bringing it about that members of a group act in accordance with a shared plan.
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  41. Kirk Ludwig (2007). Foundations of Social Reality in Collective Intentional Behavior. In Savas L. Tsohatzidis (ed.), Intentional Acts and Institutional Facts: Essays on John Searle's Social Ontology.
    This paper clarifies Searle's account of we-intentions and then argues that it is subject to counterexamples, some of which are derived from examples Searle uses against other accounts. It then offers an alternative reductive account that is not subject to the counterexamples.
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  42. Kirk Ludwig (2007). The Argument From Normative Autonomy for Collective Agents. Journal of Social Philosophy 38 (3):410–427.
  43. Kay Mathiesen (2007). Introduction to Special Issue of Social Epistemology on "Collective Knowledge and Collective Knowers". Social Epistemology 21 (3):209 – 216.
  44. Kay Mathiesen (2006). The Epistemic Features of Group Belief. Episteme 2 (3):161-175.
    Recently, there has been a debate focusing on the question of whether groups can literally have beliefs. For the purposes of epistemology, however, the key question is whether groups can have knowledge. More specifi cally, the question is whether “group views” can have the key epistemic features of belief, viz., aiming at truth and being epistemically rational. I argue that, while groups may not have beliefs in the full sense of the word, group views can have these key epistemic features (...)
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  45. Larry May (1992). Book Review:On Social Facts. Margaret Gilbert. [REVIEW] Ethics 102 (4):853-.
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  46. Ronald McIntyre (2012). &Quot;we-Subjectivity&Quot;: Husserl on Community and Communal Constitution. In Christel Fricke & Dagfinn Føllesdal (eds.), Intersubjectivity and Objectivity in Adam Smith and Edmund Husserl. Ontos Verlag. 8--61.
    I experience the world as comprising not only pluralities of individual persons but also interpersonal communal unities – groups, teams, societies, cultures, etc. The world, as experienced or "constituted", is a social world, a “spiritual” world. How are these social communities experienced as communities and distinguished from one another? What does it mean to be a “community”? And how do I constitute myself as a member of some communities but not of others? Moreover, the world of experience is not constituted (...)
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  47. Georg Meggle (ed.) (2002). Social Facts & Collective Intentionality. Dr. Hänsel-Hohenhausen Ag.
  48. Seumas Miller (2001). Social Action: A Teleological Account. Cambridge University Press.
    Social action is central to social thought. This centrality reflects the overwhelming causal significance of action for social life, the centrality of action to any account of social phenomena, and the fact that conventions and normativity are features of human activity. This book provides philosophical analyses of fundamental categories of human social action, including cooperative action, conventional action, social norm governed action, and the actions of the occupants of organizational roles. A distinctive feature of the book is that it applies (...)
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  49. Barton Moffatt & Ronald N. Giere (2003). Distributed Cognition: Where the Cognitive and the Social Merge. Social Studies of Science 33 (2):301-310.
    Among the many contested boundaries in science studies is that between the cognitive and the social. Here, we are concerned to question this boundary from a perspective within the cognitive sciences based on the notion of distributed cognition. We first present two of many contemporary sources of the notion of distributed cognition, one from the study of artificial neural networks and one from cognitive anthropology. We then proceed to reinterpret two well-known essays by Bruno Latour, ‘Visualization and Cognition: Thinking with (...)
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  50. Cathal O'Madagain (forthcoming). Can Groups Have Concepts? Semantics for Collective Intentionality. Philosophical Issues.
    A substantial literature supports the attribution of intentional states such as beliefs and desires to groups. But a lacuna exists in this literature, which is the lack of much positive work on whether groups can have concepts. Since on many views, a subject cannot be attributed a belief without being attributed concepts, such a gap undermines the cogency of accounts of group intentionality. Here I draw on Lewis’s conventional semantics to propose an account of group concepts, and argue that the (...)
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