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Summary In the late 19th and early 20th Century, many psychologists posited group minds to explain the behavior of crowds and states, as well as the emergence of norms and societal facts. In a world populated by powerful labor unions, anarchist collectives, and radical workers’ parties, each resisting the unfair demands of powerful corporate agents, it seemed reasonable to assume that powerful psychological forces were at play in the production of collective behavior. But these theories of collective mentality relied on such implausibly weak forms of functionalism and such excessively inflationary ontologies that they shared little in common with the theories of mental states that emerged in other parts of philosophy and the cognitive sciences. In the current age of popular uprisings, failing political parties, and increasing corporate power, it come s as no surprise that philosophers, psychologists, and cognitive scientists have once again developed an interest in collective behavior. A number of popular books have attempted to resuscitate claims about collective intelligence and collective decision-making; and there is a rapidly growing philosophical literature on issues of collaboration, collective intentionality, collective decision-making, and collective responsibility. Research on collective mentality spans a wide range of philosophical topics that pertaining to group minds and collective mental states. Like the philosophy of mind more broadly, the investigation of collective mentality overlaps in rich and important ways with the philosophy of action and the philosophy of cognitive science.  On the one hand, there is a long tradition of analyzing the nature and possibility of collective intentionality (this research is mainly catalogued under the 'collective action', 'collective intentionality', and 'collective responsibility' subcategories). On the other hand, there is a more recent field of investigation, grounded in the scientific study of distributed cognition. This research has targeted everything from issues of cognitive architecture, to questions about the possibility of collective consciousness and the possibility of collective mental representation. 
Key works The literature on collective intentionality and collective responsibility is expansive, and key works for each of these areas should be found under those subheadings. From a perspective more heavily grounded in the philosophy of cognitive science, Clark 1994 argues that a Dennettian account of mentality can be extended to cover some types of groups, and Hutchins 1995 develops a framework for studying collective and distributed cognition based on Marr 1982Tollefsen 2003 and Rovane 1997 develop an approach to collective personhood based on the reactive attitudes. Theiner et al 2010 and Tollefsen 2006 develop defenses of the group mind in line with the more familiar extended mind hypothesis (Clark & Chalmers 1998). Sutton et al 2010 builds an empirical and theoretical foundation for the study of collective remembering. Wilson 2001 offers a critical appraisal of the collective psychology tradition that emerged in the late 19th Century, and develops the Social Manifestation Hypothesis as an alternative to positing group minds. Rupert 2005 develops a compelling set of objections to models of collective mentality that depend on appeals to intentionality, while Rupert 2011 offers a critical appraisal of empirical work on collective mentality. Finally, Huebner 2014 offers a sustained defense of the group mind hypothesis that builds on these resources and responds to the most common objections to the hypothesis of collective mentality.
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  1. Review by: Caroline T. Arruda (2014). Review: Margaret Gilbert, Joint Commitment: How We Make the Social World. [REVIEW] Ethics 125 (1):258-262,.
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  2. Alban Bouvier (2004). Individual Beliefs and Collective Beliefs in Sciences and Philosophy: The Plural Subject and the Polyphonic Subject Accounts: Case Studies. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 34 (3):382-407.
    The issue of knowing what it means for a group to have collective beliefs is being discussed more and more in contemporary philosophy of the social sciences and philosophy of mind. Margaret Gilbert’s reconsideration of Durkheim’s viewpoint in the framework of the plural subject’s account is one of the most famous. This has implications in the history and the sociology of science—as well asin the history and sociology of philosophy—although Gilbert only outlined them in the former fields and said nothing (...)
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  3. Proietti Carlo (forthcoming). Pluralistic Ignorance and Collective Belief: A DDL Approach. Journal of Philosophical Logic.
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  4. David W. Chappell (1994). Joint Practice. Buddhist-Christian Studies 14:137-196.
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  5. Markus Christen & Peter Brugger (2014). Mapping Collective Behavior – Beware of Looping. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 37 (1):80-81.
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  6. J. I. Cohen (1939). Collective Behaviour. The Eugenics Review 30 (4):297.
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  7. Jonas Cohn (1926). McDougall, William, The Group Mind. A Sketch of the Principles of Collective Psychology. [REVIEW] Société Française de Philosophie, Bulletin 31:601.
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  8. J. P. Compromise (1989). Corporate Agency, JOHN R. WELCH. Philosophy 64 (250).
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  9. Kirsten Foss & Nicolai J. Foss (forthcoming). Authority in the Context of Distributed Knowledge. Common Knowledge.
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  10. Peter A. French (ed.) (2006). Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Shared Intentions and Collective Responsibility. Wiley-Blackwell.
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  11. Yvon Gauthier (1991). BSHM/CSHPM Joint Conference 2011. Dialectica 43 (4):329-337.
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  12. Joseph Heath (2003). Christopher McMahon, Collective Rationality and Collective Reasoning Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 23 (1):53-56.
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  13. Thomas Wiben Jensen & Elena Cuffari (2014). Doubleness in Experience: Toward a Distributed Enactive Approach to Metaphoricity. Metaphor and Symbol 29 (4):278-297.
    A new concept of cognition also implies a novel approach to the study of metaphor. This insight is the starting point of this article presenting two innovations to comprehending and analyzing metaphor, one theoretical and one in terms of methodology. On a theoretical level we argue for a new orientation to metaphor and metaphoricity based on enactive cognition and distributed language and cognition. In recent years enactive and distributed cognition have been developing a new concept of cognition as an inter-bodily (...)
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  14. Søren Harnow Klausen (forthcoming). Group Knowledge: A Real-World Approach. Synthese:1-27.
    In spite of the booming interest in social epistemology, explicit analyses of group knowledge remain rare. Most existing accounts are based on theories of joint intentionality. I argue that this approach, though not without merit or useful applications, is inadequate both when it comes to accounting for actual group knowledge attributions and for purposes of meliorative social epistemology. As an alternative, I outline a liberal, de-intellectualized account, which allows for the complex distribution of epistemic states typical of most real-world collectives, (...)
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  15. Noretta Koertge, Philip Kitcher, Helen E. Longino, Eva Jablonka, Sungsu Kim, Branden Fitelson & Gábor Hofer‐Szabó (2002). 10. Discussion Note: Distributed Cognition in Epistemic Cultures Discussion Note: Distributed Cognition in Epistemic Cultures (Pp. 637-644). [REVIEW] Philosophy of Science 69 (4).
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  16. Walter Sg Kohn (forthcoming). Collective Self-Defense Under a Revised Un Charter. Social Research.
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  17. Anita Krabbel, Sabine Ratuski & Ingrid Wetzel (1996). Requirements Analysis of Joint Tasks in Hospitals. Iris 19:733-749.
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  18. Martin Kusch, Herlinde Pauer-Studer & Hans Bernhard Schmid (2014). Introduction. Erkenntnis 79 (9):1563-1563.
    The main impetus for organizing this event was the publication, in 2011, of Philip Pettit’s and Christian List’s book, *Group Agency*. List and Pettit argue that interpreting institutions like commercial corporations, governments, political parties, trade unions, churches, and universities as group agents offers a better understanding of their internal working and their effects on social life. Pettit and List base their account of group agency on a so-called “functionalist account of agency” which assumes that an agent is constituted by a (...)
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  19. Jennifer Lackey (ed.) (2014). Essays in Collective Epistemology. Oxford University Press.
    We often talk about groups believing, knowing, and testifying. Epistemic claims of this sort are of significant consequence, given that they bear on the moral and legal responsibilities of collective entities. A team of leading experts in the field present new, cutting edge theories, insights, and approaches in collective epistemology.
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  20. Ernesto Laclau (forthcoming). The Time is Out of Joint. Diacritics.
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  21. Neil Levy (2009). Don Ross, David Spurrett, Harold Kincaid and G. Lynn Stephens, Eds. Distributed Cognition and the Will: Individual Volition and Social Context Reviewed By. [REVIEW] Philosophy in Review 28 (1):67-70.
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  22. Robert J. MacCoun (2014). Alternative Maps of the World of Collective Behaviors. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 37 (1):88-90.
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  23. George Macesich (forthcoming). The Joint Economic Committee's Study of Inflation. Social Research.
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  24. P. D. Magnus & Ron McClamrock (forthcoming). Friends with Benefits! Distributed Cognition Hooks Up Cognitive and Social Conceptions of Science. Philosophical Psychology:1-14.
    One approach to science treats science as a cognitive accomplishment of individuals and defines a scientific community as an aggregate of individual inquirers. Another treats science as a fundamentally collective endeavor and defines a scientist as a member of a scientific community. Distributed cognition has been offered as a framework that could be used to reconcile these two approaches. Adam Toon has recently asked if the cognitive and the social can be friends at last. He answers that they probably cannot, (...)
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  25. Kourken Michaelian (2014). Jfgi: From Distributed Cognition to Distributed Reliabilism. Philosophical Issues 24 (1):314-346.
    While, prima facie, virtue/credit approaches in epistemology would appear to be in tension with distributed/extended approaches in cognitive science, Pritchard () has recently argued that the tension here is only apparent, at least given a weak version of distributed cognition, which claims merely that external resources often make critical contributions to the formation of true belief, and a weak virtue theory, which claims merely that, whenever a subject achieves knowledge, his cognitive agency makes a significant contribution to the formation of (...)
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  26. Max Miller (1987). Culture and Collective Argumentation. Argumentation 1 (2):127-154.
    What are the mechanisms underlying the reproduction and change of collective beliefs? The paper suggests that a productive and promising approach for dealing with this question can be found in ontogenetic and cross-cultural studies on ‘collective argumentations and belief systems’; this is illustrated with regard to moral beliefs: After a short discussion of the rationality/relativity issue in cultural anthropology some basic elements of a conceptual framework for the empirical study of collective argumentations are outlined. A few empirical case studies are (...)
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  27. Ashish Pandey & Rajen K. Gupta (2008). A Perspective of Collective Consciousness of Business Organizations. Journal of Business Ethics 80 (4):889 - 898.
    The article discusses the meaning of consciousness and presents a collective consciousness view of business organizations and their development. It proposes an integrative hierarchical framework of three levels of organizational consciousness: material, social and spiritual. The concepts of excellence, ethical and moral temperament of organizations at different levels of consciousness are also discussed. The article describes the features of social and spiritually conscious business organizations, taking some examples from secondary sources. Overall, it is an attempt to link the ideals of (...)
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  28. Gibbs Paradox (1989). Non-Uniform Convergence'(Joint Paper with KG Denbigh). Synthese 81:283-313.
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  29. Herlinde Pauer-Studer (2014). A Constitutive Account of Group Agency. Erkenntnis 79 (9):1623-1639.
    Christian List and Philip Pettit develop an account of group agency which is based on a functional understanding of agency. They claim that understanding organizations such as commercial corporations, governments, political parties, churches, universities as group agents helps us to a better understanding of the normative status and working of those organizations. List and Pettit, however, fail to provide a unified account of group agency since they do not show how the functional side of agency and the normative side of (...)
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  30. Christian List & Pettit & Philip (2008). Group Agency and Supervenience. In Jakob Hohwy & Jesper Kallestrup (eds.), Being Reduced: New Essays on Reduction, Explanation, and Causation. Oup Oxford.
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  31. Philip Pettit (2014). Group Agents Are Not Expressive, Pragmatic or Theoretical Fictions. Erkenntnis 79 (9):1641-1662.
    Group agents have been represented as expressive fictions by those who treat ascriptions of agency to groups as metaphorical; as pragmatic fictions by those who think that the agency ascribed to groups belongs in the first place to a distinct individual or set of individuals; and as theoretical fictions by those who think that postulating group agents serves no indispensable role in our theory of the social world. This paper identifies, criticizes and rejects each of these views, defending a strong (...)
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  32. Review by: Maura Priest (2014). Review: Raimo Tuomela, Social Ontology: Collective Intentionality and Group Agents. [REVIEW] Ethics 125 (1):293-298,.
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  33. Carlo Proietti & Erik J. Olsson (2014). A DDL Approach to Pluralistic Ignorance and Collective Belief. Journal of Philosophical Logic 43 (2-3):499-515.
    A group is in a state of pluralistic ignorance (PI) if, roughly speaking, every member of the group thinks that his or her belief or desire is different from the beliefs or desires of the other members of the group. PI has been invoked to explain many otherwise puzzling phenomena in social psychology. The main purpose of this article is to shed light on the nature of PI states – their structure, internal consistency and opacity – using the formal apparatus (...)
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  34. Carol Rovane (2014). Group Agency and Individualism. Erkenntnis 79 (9):1663-1684.
    Pettit and List argue for realism about group agency, while at the same time try to retain a form of metaphysical and normative individualism on which human beings qualify as natural persons. This is an unstable and untenable combination of views. A corrective is offered here, on which realism about group agency leads us to the following related conclusions: in cases of group agency, the sort of rational unity that defines individual rational unity is realized at the level of a (...)
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  35. Javier González de Prado Salas & Jesús Zamora-Bonilla (2015). Collective Actors Without Collective Minds An Inferentialist Approach. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 45 (1):3-25.
    We present an inferentialist account of collective rationality and intentionality, according to which beliefs and other intentional states are understood in terms of the normative statuses attributed to, and undertaken by, the participants of a discursive practice—namely, their discursive or practical commitments and entitlements. Although these statuses are instituted by the performances and attitudes of the agents, they are not identified with any physical or psychological entity, process or relation. Therefore, we argue that inferentialism allows us to talk of collective (...)
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  36. Theodore R. Schatzki (2003). Raimo Tuomela, The Philosophy of Social Practices: A Collective Acceptance View Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 23 (6):409-411.
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  37. F. C. S. Schiller (1920). The Group Mind, a Sketch of the Principles of Collective Psychology with Some Attempt to Apply Them to the Interpretation of National Life and Character. The Eugenics Review 12 (3):223.
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  38. H. Schleusser & D. Breitenbach (1992). Joint Letter to the Chairman of the Conference of Chief Ministers of the States. Minerva 30 (3):424-429.
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  39. Alfred Schutz (forthcoming). The Social World and the Theory of Social Action. Social Research.
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  40. P. Sereni (2000). Le Communisme Comme Robinsonnade Collective. Actuel Marx 28 (2):181-195.
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  41. András Szigeti (forthcoming). Why Change the Subject? On Collective Epistemic Agency. Review of Philosophy and Psychology:1-22.
    This paper argues that group attitudes can be assessed in terms of standards of rationality and that group-level rationality need not be due to individual-level rationality. But it also argues that groups cannot be collective epistemic agents and are not collectively responsible for collective irrationality. I show that we do not need the concept of collective epistemic agency to explain how group-level irrationality can arise. Group-level irrationality arises because even rational individuals can fail to reason about how their attitudes will (...)
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  42. Maxime Taquet, Jordi Quoidbach, Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye & Martin Desseilles (2014). Mapping Collective Emotions to Make Sense of Collective Behavior. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 37 (1):102-103.
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  43. D. Tollefsen (2005). Let's Pretend! Joint Action and Young Children. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 35 (1):75-97.
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  44. Luca Tummolini & Cristiano Castelfranchi, Cognition, Joint Action and Collective Intentionality.
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  45. Stephen Turner (2013). Taking the Collective Out of Tacit Knowledge. Philosophia Scientiæ 17 (3):75-92.
    The concepts of “collective” and “social” are routinely confused, with claims about collective facts and their necessity justified by evidence that involves only social or interactional facts. This is the case with Harry Colllins’ argument for tacit knowledge as well. But the error is deeply rooted in the history of philosophy, in the notion of shared presuppositions popularized by neo-Kantianism, which confused logical claims of necessity with factual claims about groups. Claims of this neo-Kantian kind have difficulties shared by Collins’s (...)
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  46. Robert Ware (1988). Group Action and Social Ontology. Analyse and Kritik 10 (1):48-70.
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  47. K. Brad Wray (2010). Introduction: Collective Knowledge and Science. Episteme 7 (3):181-184.
    The literature on collective belief and collective intentionality has grown rapidly and is now quite extensive. Philosophers have applied the concepts of “collective belief” and “collective intentionality” in a variety of contexts, including political and legal contexts as well as scientific contexts, specifically to model the behavior of research teams and scientific specialties.
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Collective Mentality, Misc
  1. Roberto G. Aldunate, Feniosky Pena‐Mora & Gene E. Robinson (2005). Collaborative Distributed Decision Making for Large Scale Disaster Relief Operations: Drawing Analogies From Robust Natural Systems. Complexity 11 (2):28-38.
  2. S. Alexander (1913). Collective Willing and Truth. Mind 22 (85):14-47.
  3. Michael Anderson, Evolution, Embodiment and the Nature of the Mind.
    In: B. Hardy-Vallee & N. Payette, eds. Beyond the brain: embodied, situated & distributed cognition. (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholar’s Press), in press. Abstract: In this article, I do three main things: 1. First, I introduce an approach to the mind motivated primarily by evolutionary considerations. I do that by laying out four principles for the study of the mind from an evolutionary perspective, and four predictions that they suggest. This evolutionary perspective is completely compatible with, although broader than, the embodied cognition (...)
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