The freedom of collective agents

Journal of Political Philosophy 16 (2):165–183 (2008)
Corporate freedom is the freedom of a collective agent to perform a joint action. According to a reductive account, a collective or corporate agent is free exactly if the individuals who constitute the corporate agent are free. It is argued that individual freedoms are neither necessary nor sufficient for corporate freedom. The alternative account proposed here focuses on the performance of the joint action by the corporate agent itself. Subsequently, the analysis is applied to Cohen’s (1983) analysis of proletarian freedom. Cohen claims that proletarians are individually free but collectively unfree to leave the proletariat. I argue that, pace Cohen, such a contrast between individual and collective freedom can only exist if collective freedom is interpreted in terms of corporate freedom
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9760.2007.00292.x
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