Three models of group choice

The notion of group responsibility has received some very fruitful examination in recent years. But there still remains an important commonsense objection to this notion. Moral responsibility for an action is ordinarily linked to and held to depend upon the action's being the product of an act of choice on the part of the agent. The thrust of the objection here is that it is extremely difficult to understand how intentional acts like acts of choice can be properly attributed to a group. The notion of a group "consciousness" does not seem a very satisfactory resolution of this problem. In this paper I shall propose that there are actually three distinct processes, as well as many hybrid combinations of them there, by which groups "make choices." That is, when we look at the activities of groups, we discover three different kinds of analogues to the act of choice of the individual person. I shall be illustrating each of these models with examples of health care decisions. In addition, I shall also try to illustrate how the level of personal moral responsibility of each of the individuals making up the group, i.e., each one's responsibility for the group's action, can be seen to flow from the particular role that an individual plays within the process of "group choice" that is involved. In this way, I hope to shed light not only on the topics of group choice, group responsibility, and the interplay of personal and group responsibility, but also to show concretely the valuable role that these themes can play in our understanding of the moral elements of the health care setting. CiteULike Connotea What's this?
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DOI 10.1093/jmp/7.1.23
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