Collective rational action: Is it possible?

Individual rational action consists of (i) knowing what you want, (ii) taking proper steps to approach what you want as closely as possible, within the confines of the law. This one can learn, although some people are more skilled in it than others. Modern democracies are set up in such a way that they leave as much room as possible for individual rational action. Education for citizenship is sometimes taken to be: getting young citizens acquainted with the legal possibilities for maximizing their individual interests. How about collective rational action? Game theory shows that if people engage in individual rational action, the common good suffers. This is known as ‘the tragedy of the commons’. It was also known in Antiquity: ”What is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it” (Aristotle). To understand the issues involved we will analyse the notions of ”common knowledge”, ”individual commitment” and ”collective intention”.
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