Margaret Gilbert explores the phenomenon referred to in everyday ascriptions of beliefs to groups. She refers to this type of phenomenon as "collective belief" and calls the types of groups that are the bearers of such beliefs "plural subjects". I argue that the attitudes that groups adopt that Gilbert refers to as "collective beliefs" are not a species of belief in an important and central sense, but rather a species of acceptance. Unlike proper beliefs, a collective belief (...) is adopted by a group as a means to realizing the group's goals. Unless we recognize that this phenomenon is a species of acceptance, plural subjects will seem prone to change their "beliefs" for irrelevant reasons, and thus frequently appear to act in an irrational manner. (shrink)
This is a review essay of Christopher Kutz's Complicity: Ethics and Law for a Collective Age, and Jonathan Bass's Stay The Hand of Vengeance: The Politics of War Crimes Tribunals. Topics addressed include the nature of collective intentions and actions, the possibility of collective guilt, the moral responsibility of individuals in the context of collective actions.
The paper aims to clarify and scrutinize Searle"s somewhat puzzling statement that collective intentionality is a biologically primitive phenomenon. It is argued that the statement is not only meant to bring out that "collective intentionality" is not further analyzable in terms of individual intentionality. It also is meant to convey that we have a biologically evolved innate capacity for collective intentionality.The paper points out that Searle"s dedication to a strong notion of collective intentionality considerably delimits the (...) scope of his endeavor. Furthermore, evolutionary theory does not vindicate that an innate capacity for collective intentionality is a necessary precondition for cooperative behavior. 1. (shrink)
This article examines two empirical research traditions—experimental economics and the social identity approach in social psychology—that may be seen as attempts to falsify and verify the theory of collective intentionality, respectively. The article argues that both approaches fail to settle the issue. However, this is not necessarily due to the alleged immaturity of the social sciences but, possibly, to the philosophical nature of intentionality and intentional action. The article shows how broadly Davidsonian action theory, including Hacking’s notion of the (...) looping effect of the human sciences, can be developed into an argument for the view that there is no theory-independent true nature of intentional action. If the Davidsonian line of thought is correct, the theory of collective intentionality is, in a sense, true if we accept the theory. Key Words: collective intentionality • experimental economics • social identity theory • Donald Davidson • Ian Hacking • constructivism • action • agency • philosophy of the social sciences. (shrink)
Some instances of right and wrongdoing appear to be of a distinctly collective kind. When, for example, one group commits genocide against another, the genocide is collective in the sense that the wrongness of genocide seems morally distinct from the aggregation of individual murders that make up the genocide. The problem, which I refer to as the problem of collective wrongs, is that it is unclear how to assign blame for distinctly collective wrongdoing to individual contributors (...) when none of those individual contributors is guilty of the wrongdoing in question. I offer Christopher Kutz’s Complicity Principle as an attractive starting point for solving the problem, and then argue that the principle ought to be expanded to include a broader and more appropriate range of cases. The view I ultimately defend is that individuals are blameworthy for collective harms insofar as they knowingly participate in those harms, and that said individuals remain blameworthy regardless of whether they succeed in making a causal contribution to those harms. (shrink)
-/- In this paper I discuss a number of different relationships between two kinds of (moral) obligation: those which have individuals as their subject, and those which have groups of individuals as their subject. I use the name collective obligations to refer to obligations of the second sort. I argue that there are collective obligations, in this sense; that such obligations can give rise to and explain obligations which fall on individuals; that because of these facts collective (...) obligations are not simply reducible to individual obligations; and that collective obligations supervene on individual obligations, without being reducible to them. The sort of supervenience I have in mind here is what is sometimes called ‘global supervenience’. In other words, there cannot be two worlds which differ in respect of the collective obligations which exist in them without also differing in respect of the individual obligations which exist in them. (shrink)
At the intersection of social and virtue epistemology lies the important, yet so far entirely neglected, project of articulating the social dimensions of epistemic virtues. Perhaps the most obvious way in which epistemic virtues might be social is that they may be possessed by social collectives. We often speak of groups as if they could instantiate epistemic virtues. It is tempting to think of these expressions as ascribing virtues not to the groups themselves, but to their members. Adapting Margaret Gilbert's (...) arguments against individualist accounts of collective beliefs, I show that individualist accounts of group virtues are either too weak or too strong. I then formulate a non-individualist account modeled after Gilbert's influential account of collective beliefs. A crucial disanalogy between collective traits and beliefs, I argue, makes the success of this model unlikely. I conclude with some questions with which the future work on collective epistemic virtues should engage. (shrink)
Stephen May (2011) holds that language rights have been insufficiently recognized, or just rejected as problematic, in human rights theory and practice. Defending the “human rights approach to language rights”, he claims that language rights should be accorded the status of fundamental human rights, recognized as such by states and international organizations. This article argues that the notion of language rights is far from clear. According to May, one key reason for rejecting the claim that language rights should be considered (...) as human rights is the widespread belief that language rights are collective rights. In order to address this kind of objection, the collective character attributed to language rights must be carefully assessed, distinguishing two different views of what a collective right is. (shrink)
This paper defends the claim that collective responsibility can be based on group membership. It argues that collective responsibility is best understood in terms of duties to respond to the victims of collective crimes. Reasonable fear on the part of the victimized groups creates duties to respond for members of the perpetrating group. This account does a better job of capturing our intuitions about actual cases and the phenomenology of collective responsibility than other accounts currently on (...) offer. It also offers us a justification of collective responsibility judgments that is compatible with the separateness of persons. (shrink)
This essay argues that while the notion of collective responsibiility is incoherent if it is taken to be an application of the Kantian model of moral responsibility to groups, it is coherent -- and important -- if formulated in terms of the moral reactions that we can have to groups that cause harm in the world. I formulate collective responsibility as such and in doing so refocus attention from intentionality to the production of harm.
The paper explores the possibility of collectives forgiving and being forgiven. The first half of the paper articulates and amends Hannah Arendt’s account of forgiveness of and by individuals. The second half raises several objections to the possibility of extending this account to forgiveness of and by collectives. In reply, I argue that collectives can have emotions, be guilty, and meet other necessary conditions for forgiving or being forgiven. However, I explain why, even though collective forgiveness is possible, it (...) may, nonetheless, prove dissatisfying. (shrink)
Arne Johan Vetlesen argues that to do evil is to intentionally inflict pain on another human being, against his or her will, and cause serious and foreseeable harm. Vetlesen investigates why and in what sort of circumstances such a desire arises, and how it is channeled, or exploited, into collective evildoing. He argues that such evildoing, pitting whole groups against each other, springs from a combination of character, situation, and social structure. Vetlesen shows how closely perpetrators, victims, and (...) bystanders interact, and how aspects of human agency are recognized, denied, and projected by different agents. (shrink)
Two arguments apparently support the thesis that collective identity presupposes an Other: the recognition argument, according to which seeing myself as a self requires recognition by an other whom I also recognize as a self (Hegel); and the dialogic argument, according to which my sense of self can only develop dialogically (Taylor). But applying these arguments to collective identity involves a compositional fallacy. Two modern ideologies mask the particularist thesis’s falsehood. The ideology of indivisible state sovereignty makes sovereignty (...) as such appear particularistic by fusing “internal” with “external” sovereignty; nationalism imagines national identity as particularistic by linking it to sovereignty. But the concatenation of internal sovereignty, external sovereignty, and nation is contingent. Schmitt’s thesis that “the political” presupposes an other conflates internal and external sovereignty, while Mouffe’s neo-Schmittianism conflates difference (Derrida) with alterity. A shared global identity may face many obstacles, but metaphysical impossibility and conceptual confusion are not among them. (shrink)
My goal in this paper is to generalize Kirsh and Maglio’s (1994) distinction between pragmatic and epistemic actions from the level of individuals to the level of groups. I use the concept of a collective epistemic action to refer to the ways in which groups of people actively change the structure of their social organization, with the epistemic goal of reshaping and augmenting their cognitive performance as integrated collectivities. By placing a renewed emphasis on the interactions between people, rather (...) than between people and their tools I hope to reconnect the cognitive-scientifically-driven “extended mind” thesis (Clark and Chalmers 1998; Clark 2008) with complementary areas of social-scientific research in which groups are analyzed as the seats of action and cognition in their own right. In particular, the literature to which I aim to build a bridge in this paper are certain segments of social and organizational psychology on the one hand (Larsen and Christensen 1993; Hinsz et al. 1997, Mohammed and Dumville 2001), and theories of collective and institutional action on the other hand (Ostrom 1990, List and Pettit 2011). (shrink)
This paper outlines what we call a network model of collective emotions. Drawing upon this model, we explore the significance of collective emotions in the Palestine-Israel conflict. We highlight some of the ways in which collective shame, in particular, has contributed to the evolution of this conflict. And we consider some of the obstacles that shame and the pride-restoring narratives to which it gave birth pose to the conflict’s resolution.
This article argues against Anna Stilz's recent attempt to solve the problem of citizens' collective responsibility in democratic states. I show that her solution could only apply to state actions that are (in legal terminology) unjustified but excusable. Stilz's marquee case – the 2003 invasion of Iraq – does not, I will argue, fit this bill; nor, in all likelihood, does any other case in recorded history. Thus, this article concludes, we may allow that Stilz's argument offers a theoretically (...) cogent case for citizens' task-responsibility in democratic states (given the right conditions); it just so happens that few if any cases satisfy these conditions. (shrink)
It is possible to reveal and to examine the collective and social fields of consciousness experimentally. An account is given of planned experiments based on quantitative calculations, which indicate that the effects of individual and collective fields of consciousness on matter may elicit directly observable physical results. Moreover, it is shown that collective coherent consciousness fields may enhance the physical effects of consciousness at a significant rate. The predicted results have a significance in our picture of our (...) consciousness, in self-assertion and dynamising of consciousness, the expansion of collective fields of consciousness, and thus the raising of the level of consciousness for humanity. (shrink)
The present essay is a compact form of the results obtained during many decades of research into the primeval foundations of the collective fields of force, both social and of consciousness. Since everything is determined by their origins, and the collective forces arise from the mind, we had to explore the ultimate origins of mind. We have come to recognize the law of interactions as the law and necessity which determine the primeval origins of mind. It also determines (...) the substance and essence of the Universe and the modes of its existence and functioning. The present essay is a concise form of results obtained during many decades of research in the primeval foundations of collective, both social and consciousness fields. I point out that a yet unknown type of forces existed in the Golden Age, which I termed as collective force. In the Golden Age mankind lived in communities which had a full unity. The communal life developed its collective forms, of which the most significant are the development of human speech, of language, share of work and the development of the communal fests. The law determining the primeval origins of mind is the cosmic law of interactions. It defines the substance of the Universe and the ways of its existence and activity. A detailed analysis is presented on the nature of the lay of interaction here. One consequence of this fundamental principle is the general prevalence of the principle of mutuality, which plays a basic role in the understanding of the unfolding and degeneration of consciousness. The principle of mutuality determines the changes of every levels of life. The laws of the generation of consciousness in the ages of evolution toward Homo and the Golden Age are analysed. I presented some evidences indicating the factual existence of the Golden Age, as well as its destruction, which was necessarily accompanied by the overthrow of the consciousness of the Golden Age, its repression and replacement by the newly developed rational, upper or superficial mind. Starting from the consideration that our mind is a product of our history, the phenomenon of the 'double mind' is recognised, the largely antagonistic duality of human mind. It is succeeded to solve the riddle of the double mind and determining its substance. Our double mind, consisting of the ‘upper’ or rational mind and the ‘deep-mind’, is a creature of the two fundamental ages of mankind, that of the age of power domination and the Golden Age. Therefore it expresses the duality of our history. We attempted to explore the heritage of the Golden Age embedded into our world of instincts, sexuality, emotional and sensual world, and the expressions of this heritage according to the different periods of our lives. If we will succeed in enlightening the deep-mind it may make it possible to give back the long-forgotten collective fields of forces to mankind, unavailable to the surface mind at present, and would expand the all-pervasive power of the conscious mind significantly. Hopefully, our results open up new vistas for the research of the collective fields and the double nature of the human mind, and may enable us to know and complete ourselves more deeply and thoroughly. (shrink)
I investigate collective intentionality (CI) through the “Ought” implies “Can” (OIC) principle. My leading question is does OIC impose any further requirement on CI? In answering the challenge inside a Searlean framework, I realize that we need to clarify what CI's structure is and what kind of role the agents joining a CI-act have. In the last part of the paper, I put forward an (inverted) Hartian framework to allow the Searlean CI theory to be agent sensitive and cope (...) with the problems that emerged. (shrink)
The possibility of collective action is essential to human freedom. Yet, as Rousseau famously argued, individuals acting together allow themselves to depend on one another’s choices and thereby jeopardize one another’s freedom. These two facts jointly constitute what I call the normative problem of collective action. I argue that solving this problem is harder than it looks. It cannot be done merely in terms of moral obligations; indeed, it ultimately requires putting in place a full-ﬂedged system of contract (...) rights. The point has important ramiﬁcations for contract theory. The role that contract rights play in reconciling collective action and freedom turns out to be crucial to understanding how—and by whom—these rights can legitimately be enforced. It also explains why expectation damages should be the standard remedy for breach of contract. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that a well-known objection to subsistence rights developed by Onora O'Neill - namely, that such rights would generate obligations without an obligation-bearer, can be answered if we take such rights to impose an objection on the wrold's population, taken collectively.
Assuming that states can hold moral duties, it can easily be seen that states—just like any other moral agent—can sometimes fail to discharge those moral duties. In the context of climate change examples of states that do not meet their emission reduction targets abound. If individual moral agents do wrong they usually deserve and are liable to some kind of punishment. But how can states be punished for failing to comply with moral duties without therewith also punishing their citizens who (...) are not necessarily deserving of any punishment? (shrink)
Conventional wisdom holds two seemingly opposed beliefs. One is that communities are often much better than individuals at dealing with certain situations or solving certain problems. The other is that crowds are usually, and some say always, at best as intelligent as their least intelligent members and at worst even less. Consistency would seem to be easily re-established by distinguishing between advanced, sophisticated social organizations which afford the supporting communities a high level of collective performance, and primitive, mob-like structures (...) which pull the group towards the lower end of the achievement scale. But this reconciliation meets with some objections. The most familiar ones concern the mixed record of elaborate social systems, which are said to occasionally or even, according to some accounts, systematically produce wrong decisions, poor assessments, disastrous plans, counterproductive measures, etc. A more recent set of objections rests on cases where ‘crowds’, i,e, groups not organized in a sophisticated way, produce good results, in fact, results which better those of most, or even all, members of the group. Such cases are collected in James Surowiecki’s book The Wisdom of Crowds, which argues more generally in favor of an ‘order out of chaos’ view of collective thinking: whether sophisticated or simple, social organizations for the production of knowledge or problem-solving can benefit from the absence of certain individualistc constraints which are traditionally thought to foster excellence in cognitive tasks. This flavor of paradox is enhanced by Surowiecki’s choice of phrase: at the surface level, ‘wisdom of crowds’ conflicts with the well-entrenched cliché of the folly1 of crowds; but at a deeper level, Surowiecki seems to appeal to one frequent connotation of ‘wisdom’ which is precisely its paradoxical character. Whether Surowiecki actually intended to exploit this.. (shrink)
The square of opposition (as part of a lattice) is used as a natural way to represent different and opposite ways of who makes decisions, and in what way, in/for a group or a society. Majority logic is characterized by multiple logical squares (one for each possible majority), with the “discursive dilemma” as a consequence. Three-valued logics of majority decisions with discursive dilemma undecided, of veto, consensus, and sequential voting are analyzed from the semantic point of view. For instance, the (...) paraconsistent and paracomplete logics M3, M3veto and C3 are described. The distinction of designated and non-designated values is not used, and instead, the consequence relation is defined as a preservation of the minimum truth-value of the implying set of sentences. The consequence and opposition relations of the logics described are compared, and an ordering of the logics with respect to their opposition relations is established. (shrink)
The paper evaluates Christopher Hookway's claim that individual epistemic vice can enhance the value of collective epistemic virtue. I suggest that this claim can be defended on the grounds of a dynamic account of collective intentional properties that is supplemented by an account of a spontaneous ordering mechanism such as the "intangible hand". Both these accounts try to explain how individual traits integrate into collective traits by way of aggregation. In this respect, they are different from normative (...) and summative accounts of plural subjects. I argue that it is the repeatable and self-amplifying nature of character traits that calls for a dynamic account of collective virtues. With regard to epistemic virtues and their role in the acquisition of knowledge I hold that their dynamic and self-amplifying character warrants their reliability, since it is this character that bottoms out in repeated acts of epistemally correct behavior that constitute a 'responsible practice'. The successful appliance of the latter amplifies the attitude it origins from. If epistemic virtues construed along these lines are attributed to collectives, a dynamic aggregate account supplemented by an account of an "intan-gible hand" device might explain how an aggregate of virtuous efforts of individuals can not only absorb a certain amount of vice but be even enhanced by the 'spice' of some non-intentional epistemically vicious side effects of epistemically virtuous en- deavor. (shrink)
Understanding Information and Communication Technologies through the networks in which people get con¬nected, communicate and co-operate has been a constant feature in the work of researchers who have not dissociated their view of the meaning of technologies from new social movements. This paper maintains that Information and Communication Technologies are not only networks that people join individually, but they also act as social technologies. Their improvement depends both on the diversity of their functions (social, political, cognitive, etc.) and the flexibility (...) with which they adapt to functional diversity (for example, to life cycles, changing and fluctuating mobility or audiovisual perception thresholds). This idea is supported by the new technological challenge represented by portable devices, such as, personal area networks, high-use user interfaces, and systems designed for home care. These important changes will be explored in this paper in connection with their value for education. (shrink)
Does ?ought? imply ?can? for collectives' obligations? In this paper I want to establish two things. The first, what a collective obligation means for members of the collective. The second, how collective ability can be ascertained. I argue that there are four general kinds of obligation, which devolve from collectives to members in different ways, and I give an account of the distribution of obligation from collectives to members for each of these kinds. One implication of understanding (...)collective obligation and ability in the proposed way is that a group can be blameworthy for failing to realize its obligation even when no member of the group is blameworthy for failing to realize her obligation. (shrink)
While memory is conceptualized predominantly as an individual capacity in the cognitive and biological sciences, the social sciences have most commonly construed memory as a collective phenomenon. Collective memory has been put to diverse uses, ranging from accounts of nationalism in history and political science to views of ritualization and commemoration in anthropology and sociology. These appeals to collective memory share the idea that memory ‘‘goes beyond the individual’’ but often run together quite diﬀerent claims in spelling (...) out that idea. This paper reviews a sampling of recent work on collective memory in the light of emerging externalist views within the cognitive sciences, and through some reﬂection on broader traditions of thought in the biological and social sciences that have appealed to the idea that groups have minds. The paper concludes with some thoughts about the relationship between these kinds of cognitive metaphors in the social sciences and our notion of agency. (shrink)
This paper introduces the author's approach to everyday ascriptions of collective cognitive states as in such statements as we believe he is lying. Collective epistemology deals with these ascriptions attempting to understand them and the phenomena in question.
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 shall call) 'unintentional collective actions.'. (shrink)
Collective action is interpreted as a matter of people doing something together, and it is assumed that this involves their having a collective intention to do that thing together. The account of collective intention for which the author has argued elsewhere is presented. In terms that are explained, the parties are jointly committed to intend as a body that such-and-such. Collective action problems in the sense of rational choice theoryproblems such as the various forms of (...) coordination problem and the prisoners dilemmaare then considered. An explanation is given of how, when such a problem is interpreted in terms of the parties inclinations, a suitable collective intention resolves the problem for agents who are rational in a broad sense other than the technical sense of game theory. Key Words: rationality collective action collective intention joint commitment. (shrink)
Philosophers and economists write about collective action from distinct but related points of view. This paper aims to bridge these perspectives. Economists have been concerned with rationality in a strategic context. There, problems posed by “coordination games” seem to point to a form of rational action, “team thinking,” which is not individualistic. Philosophers’ analyses of collective intention, however, sometimes reduce collective action to a set of individually instrumental actions. They do not, therefore, capture the first person plural (...) perspective characteristic of team thinking. Other analyses, problematically, depict intentions ranging over others’ actions. I offer an analysis of collective intention which avoids these problems. A collective intention aims only at causing an individual action, but its propositional content stipulates its mirroring in other minds. (shrink)
Among other things, this paper considers what so-called collective guilt feelings amount to. If collective guilt feelings are sometimes appropriate, it must be the case that collectives can indeed be guilty. The paper begins with an account of what it is for a collective to intend to do something and to act in light of that intention. An account of collective guilt in terms of membership guilt feelings is found wanting. Finally, a "plural subject" account of (...)collective guilt feelings is articulated, such that they involve a joint commitment to feel guilt as a body. (shrink)
The paper argues for the applicability of the notion of collective truth as opposed to distributive truth, that is, truth at times or possibilia taken in groups rather than individually. The underlying reasoning is that there are transtemporal and transworld relationships, e.g., those involving the relations of <being a descendant of> and <thinking about>. Relationships are (one type of) truth-makers. Hence, there are transtemporal and transworld truth-makers. Therefore, there is transtemporal and transworld truth, i.e., collective truth. A semantics (...) is developed (formalized in the appendix) which embodies the notion of collective truth, and which thereby, it is argued, has various advantages over standard intensional semantics. For example, it avoids a commitment to certain impossible entities. (shrink)
The paper presents an account of social institutions on the basis of collective acceptance. Basically, collective acceptance by some members of a group involves the members’ collectively coming to hold and holding a relevant social attitude (a “we-attitude”), viz. either one in the intention family of concepts or one in the belief family. In standard cases the collective acceptance must be in the “we-mode”, viz. performed as a group member, and involve that it be meant for the (...) group. The participants must be collectively committed to what they have accepted. Social institutions are taken to be norm-governed social practices introducing a new social and conceptual status on the practices or some elements involved in those practices. This requires that some of the involved norms be constitutive norms as opposed to merely “accidentally” regulating ones. A classification of social institutions is presented. The account is broader in scope than is Searle’s. (shrink)
Writers on collective action are in broad agreement that in order for a group of agents to form a collective intention, the members of that group must have beliefs about the beliefs of the other members. But in spite of the fact that this so-called "interactive knowledge" is central to virtually every account of collective intention, writers on this subject have not offered a detailed account of the nature of interactive knowledge. In this paper, we argue that (...) such an account is necessary for any adequate analysis of collective intention. Furthermore, we argue that an application of Robert Aumann's theory of interactive knowledge may be used to address several puzzling features of collective intention. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Plausibly, only moral agents can bear action-demanding duties. This places constraints on which groups can bear action-demanding duties: only groups with sufficient structure—call them ‘collectives’—have the necessary agency. Moreover, if duties imply ability then moral agents (of both the individual and collectives varieties) can bear duties only over actions they are able to perform. It is thus doubtful that individual agents can bear duties to perform actions that only a collective could perform. This appears to leave us at a (...) loss when assigning duties in circumstances where only a collective could perform some morally desirable action and no collective exists. But, I argue, we are not at a loss. This article outlines a new way of assigning duties over collective acts when there is no collective. Specifically, we should assign collectivisation duties to individuals. These are individual duties to take steps towards forming a collective, which then incurs a duty over the action. I give criteria for when individuals have collectivisation duties and discuss the demands these duties place on their bearers. (shrink)
The debate surrounding the issue of collective moral responsibility is often steeped in metaphysical issues of agency and personhood. I suggest that we can approach the metaphysical problems surrounding the issue of collective responsibility in a roundabout manner. My approach is reminiscent of that taken by P.F. Strawson in "Freedom and Resentment" (1968). Strawson argues that the participant reactive attitudes - attitudes like resentment, gratitude, forgiveness and so on - provide the justification for holding individuals morally responsible. I (...) argue that the framework of the reactive attitudes extends to collectives and provides the justification for holding collectives morally responsible. (shrink)
In this paper I will discuss a certain philosophical and conceptual program -- that I have called philosophy of social action writ large -- and also show in detail how parts of the program have been, and is currently being carried out. In current philosophical research the philosophy of social action can be understood in a broad sense to encompass such central research topics as action occurring in a social context (this includes multi-agent action); shared we-attitudes (such as we-intention, mutual (...) belief) and other social attitudes expressing collective intentionality and needed for the explication and explanation of social action; social macro-notions, such as actions performed by social groups and properties of social groups such as their goals and beliefs; social practices, and institutions (see e.g. Tuomela, 1995, 2000a, 2001). The theory of social action understood analogously in a broad sense would then involve not only philosophical but all other relevant theorizing about social action. Thus, in this sense, such fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as Distributed AI (DAI) and the theory of Multi-Agent Systems (MAS) fall within the scope of the theory of social action. DAI studies the social side of computer systems and includes various well-known areas ranging from human-computer interaction, computer-supported cooperative work, organizational processing, and distributed problem solving to the simulation of social systems. (shrink)
The author develops and elaborates on her account of collective belief, something standardly referred to, in her view, when we speak of what we believe. This paper focuses on a special response hearers may experience in the context of expressions of belief, a response that may issue in offended rebukes to the speaker. It is argued that this response would be appropriate if both speakers and hearers were parties to what the authors calls a joint commitment to believe a (...) certain proposition as a body. This joint commitment puts speakers under an obligation to refrain from speaking in certain ways, and gives hearers a correlative right to such refraining, and hence a basis for offended rebukes. (shrink)
Terrorism is an extreme, violent response to a failed political process engaging political regimes and ethnic and ideological adversaries over fundamental governance issues. Applying the theory of collective action, the author explains the dynamic of violence escalation and persistence. Recent Islamist terrorism stems from the conviction that a theocracy is the only answer to the multiple problems of Middle Eastern and Muslim countries. Checks on terrorism result both from external social control and from the internal contradictions of theocratic states.
Governments across the globe have squandered treasure and imprisoned millions of their own citizens by criminalising the use and sale of recreational drugs. But use of these drugs has remained relatively constant, and the primary victims are the users themselves. Meanwhile, antimicrobial drugs that once had the power to cure infections are losing their ability to do so, compromising the health of people around the world. The thesis of this essay is that policymakers should stop wasting resources trying to fight (...) an unwinnable and morally dubious war against recreational drug users, and start shifting their attention to the serious threat posed by our collective misuse of antibiotics. (shrink)
This paper introduces the concept of collective intentionality and shows its relevance when we seek to understand public management. Social ontology – particularly its leading concept, collective intentionality – provides critical insights into public organisations. The paper sets out the some of the epistemological limitations of cultural theories and takes as its example of these the group-grid theory of Douglas and Hood. It then draws upon Brentano, Husserl and Searle to show the ontological character of public management. Modern (...) public institutions – such as advisory organisations and service delivery agencies, including schools and universities – are expressions of human collective intentionality. The central concept within these institutions, as a phenomenology reveals, is cooperation. Public institutions are natural structures that emerge from our evolutionary ancestry as cooperative animals and enduringly display all the features of that ancestry. (shrink)
This essay explores the nature of an important collective emotion, namely, collective remorse. Three accounts of collective remorse are presented and evaluated. The first involves an aggregate of group members remorseful over acts of their own associated with their group's act; the second an aggregate of persons remorseful over their group's act. The third account posits, in terms that are explained, a joint commitment of a group's members to constitute as far as is possible a single remorseful (...) body. Construed according to this account the remorse of a nation that has wronged another nation is liable to make a particularly important contribution to international peace. (shrink)
Ruth Marcus has offered an account of moral dilemmas in which the presence of dilemmas acts as a motivating force, pushing us to try to minimize predicaments of moral conflict. In this paper, I defend a Marcus-style account of dilemmas against two objections: first, that if dilemmas are real, we are forced to blame those who have done their best, and second, that in some cases, even a stripped down version of blame seems inappropriate. My account highlights the importance of (...)collective responsibility in understanding dilemmas, and I suggest that it sheds light on understanding moral progress. (shrink)
Abstract: Focusing on early child pretend play from the perspective of developmental psychology, this article puts forward and presents evidence for two claims. First, such play constitutes an area of remarkable individual intentionality of second-order intentionality (or 'theory of mind'): in pretence with others, young children grasp the basic intentional structure of pretending as a non-serious fictional form of action. Second, early social pretend play embodies shared or collective we-intentionality. Pretending with others is one of the ontogenetically primary instances (...) of truly cooperative actions. And it is a, perhaps the, primordial form of cooperative action with rudimentary rule-governed, institutional structure: in joint pretence games, children are aware that objects collectively get assigned fictional status, 'count as' something, and that this creates a normative space of warranted moves in the game. Developmentally, pretend play might even be a cradle for institutional phenomena more generally. (shrink)
Among various cases that equally admit of evidentialist reasoning, the supposedly evidentialist solution has varying degrees of intuitive attractiveness. I suggest that cooperative reasoning may account for the appeal of apparently evidentialist behavior in the cases in which it is intuitively attractive, while the inapplicability of cooperative reasoning may account for the unattractiveness of evidentialist behaviour in other cases. A collective causal power with respect to agreed outcomes, not evidentialist reasoning, makes cooperation attractive in the Prisoners' Dilemma. And a (...) natural though unwarranted assumption of such a power may account for the intuitive appeal of the one-box response in Newcomb's Problem. (shrink)
We live in a morally flawed world. Our lives are complicated by what other people do, and by the harms that flow from our social, economic, and political institutions. Our relations as individuals to these collective harms constitute the domain of complicity. This book examines the relationship between collective responsibility and individual guilt. It presents a rigorous philosophical account of the nature of our relations to the social groups in which we participate, and uses that account in a (...) discussion of contemporary moral theory. Christopher Kutz shows that the two prevailing theories of moral philosophy, Kantianism and consequentialism, both have difficulties resolving problems of complicity. He then argues for a richer theory of accountability in which any real understanding of collective action not only allows but demands individual responsibility. (shrink)
If there is collective scientific knowledge, then at least some scientific groups have beliefs over and above the personal beliefs of their members. Gilbert's plural-subjects theory makes precise the notion of ‘over and above’ here. Some philosophers have used plural-subjects theory to argue that philosophical, historical and sociological studies of science should take account of collective beliefs of scientific groups. Their claims rest on the premise that our best explanations of scientific change include these collective beliefs. I (...) argue that Gilbert's account of collective scientific belief does not provide a better explanation of scientific change than a non-collective alternative. A different defence of collective scientific belief and knowledge is needed. (shrink)
This paper discusses supportive neurological and social evidence for 'collective consciousness', here understood as a shared sense of being together with others in a single or unified experience. Mirror neurons in the premotor and posterior parietal cortices respond to the intentions as well as the actions of other individuals. There are also mirror neurons in the anterior insula and anterior cingulate cortices which have been implicated in empathy. Many authors have considered the likely role of such mirror systems in (...) the development of uniquely human aspects of sociality including language. Though not without criticism, Menant has made the case that mirror-neuron assisted exchanges aided the original advent of self-consciousness and intersubjectivity. Combining these ideas with social mirror theory it is not difficult to imagine the creation of similar dynamical patterns in the emotional and even cognitive neuronal activity of individuals in human groups, creating a feeling in which the participating members experience a unified sense of consciousness. Such instances pose a kind of 'binding problem' in which participating individuals exhibit a degree of 'entanglement'. (shrink)
In his recent book, National Responsibility and Global Justice, David Miller conceptualizes and justifies a model of national responsibility. His conceptualization proceeds in two steps: he starts by developing two models of collective responsibility, the like-minded group model and the cooperative practice model. He then proceeds to discuss national responsibility, a species of collective responsibility, and argues that nations have features such that the two models of collective responsibility also apply to them. In this article I focus (...) on the question whether Miller’s like-minded group model and the cooperative practice model are plausible and convincing models of collective responsibility. I will argue that the like-minded model does not provide a plausible conceptualization of collective responsibility, while the collective practice model provides a good model for collective responsibility but is not particularly helpful in conceptualizing national responsibility. (shrink)
There is much to admire in Michael Walzer’s discussion of terrorism and just war. I particularly applaud his insistence that liability to attack is a matter of action rather than membership or collective identity. “It is,” he writes, “the extension of violence or the threat..
Flores and Johnson (Ethics 93 No. 3 (1983) pp. 537, 545.) offer a solution to the problem of individual and collective responsibility which obscures the fundamental requirement for responsibility ascriptions, namely, moral agency. Close attention to matters of individual and collective agency provides a simple yet defensible criterion for establishing when an individual is and isn't responsible for the untoward consequences of a collective act.
This paper gives an account of communicative action from the point of view of communication as a cooperative enterprise. It is argued that this is communication both on the basis of shared collective goals and without them. It is also argued that people can communicate without specifically formed illocutionary communicative intentions. The paper concludes by comparing the account given in the paper with Habermas’s theory of communicative action.
Can teams and other collectivities have preferences of their own, preferences that are not in some way reducible to the personal preferences of their members? In short, are collective preferences possible? In everyday life people speak easily of what we prefer, where what is at issue seems to be a collective preference. This is suggested by the acceptability of such remarks as ‘My ideal walk would be . . . along rougher and less well-marked paths than we prefer (...) as a family’. One can imagine, indeed, that each member of a given family prefers something other than what the family prefers. What, then, do the collective preferences of everyday understanding amount to? (shrink)
Terrorism is commonly viewed as a form of war, and as a form of war, the morality of terrorism seems to turn on the usual arguments regarding the furtherance of political objectives through coercive means. The terrorist argues that his options for armed struggle are limited, and that the use of force against civilians is the only way he can advance his cause. But this argument is subject to a powerful response. There is the argument from consequences, which asserts that (...) terrorism is almost always counterproductive, even assuming the terrorist’s political objectives are legitimate. There is the argument from rights, which claims that terrorism violates the basic human rights of (at least) its civilian victims, and is therefore morally objectionable regardless of its consequences. And there is the argument from virtue, which notes that slaughtering civilians requires no skill or courage and therefore generates no honor or glory, making the terrorist not a virtuous warrior but a vicious one. But terrorism is not only a means of political coercion. It is also, in the view of many terrorists, a means of retribution. It is a means of exacting punishment on a political community the terrorist believes is collectively responsible for grievous wrongs certain members of that community have committed. And viewed as a means of retribution, the usual arguments made against terrorism-as-coercion have no moral force. To explain why terrorism-as-retribution is morally wrong, we must attack the notion of collective responsibility on which the terrorist relies. (shrink)
We all pursue epistemic goals as individuals. But we also pursue collective epistemic goals. In the case of many groups to which we belong, we want each member of the group - and sometimes even the group itself - to have as many true beliefs as possible and as few false beliefs as possible. In this paper, I respond to the main objections to the very idea of such collective epistemic goals. Furthermore, I describe the various ways that (...) our collective epistemic goals can come into conflict with each other. And I argue that we must appeal to pragmatic considerations in order to resolve such conflicts. (shrink)
According to John Searle’s well-known Is-Ought Argument, it is possible to derive an ought-statement from is-statements only. This argument concerns obligations involved in institutions such as promising, and it relies on the idea that institutions can be conceptualized in terms of constitutive rules. In this paper, I argue that the structure of this argument has never been fully appreciated. Starting from my status account of constitutive rules, I reconstruct the argument and establish that it is valid. This reconstruction reveals that (...) the soundness of the argument depends on whether collective acceptance as such can generate obligations. Margaret Gilbert has argued that it can, and thus far some of her central arguments have not been addressed. The upshot is that the Is-Ought Argument deserves to be taken seriously once again. (shrink)
In this paper, I am concerned with the practical aspect of joint attention. In particular, I ask what enables us to engage in joint activities, and go on to suggest that on a representational account of joint attention, this question cannot be satisfactorily answered. I explore John Campbell's "relational" approach and suggest that if one couples it with Peter Hobson's notion of "feeling perception", one may be in a position to account for the action-enabling aspect of joint engagements. This approach (...) can usefully be thought of as describing a practical kind of collective knowledge. (shrink)
1. One of the main aims of this paper is to study the possibilities for free-riding type of behavior in various kinds of many-person interaction situations. In particular it will be of interest to see what kinds of game-theoretic structures, defined in terms of the participants' outcome-preferences, can be involved in cases of free-riding. I shall also be interested in the related problem or dilemma of collective action in a somewhat broader sense. By the dilemma of collective action (...) I mean, generally speaking, the conflict between individual and collective rationality and the conflict between corresponding actions, in the sense it has been discussed in recent literature. Typically (although not invariably) collective action problems and free-rider problems coexist. Let me start my discussion by considering what Elster (1985) has to say about the subject. First, the notion of collective action itself should be characterized. Elster defines it as follows (p. 137): "By collective action I mean the choice by all or most individuals of the course of action that, when chosen by all or most individuals, leads to the collectively best outcome." While this characterization is informative in the present context, I think that it is not appropriate as a general characterization. It may provide a sufficient condition, but it fails as a necessary condition. One reason for this is that there may not be a single collectively best outcome at all. Instead, I suggest we follow common sense and take collective action simply to be action by a collection or group of people, where these people (or at least many of them) act with the aim of achieving a common end or goal (this notion understood very broadly so as to include e.g. following norms, practices, and customs). We also require of a situation of collective action that the participants have several (or at least two) possible courses of action open to them. Elster's above definition of collective action goes in terms of the collectively best outcome or goal.. (shrink)
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 this article, I propose a solution that distinguishes between epistemic and ontological interpretations of the demand for the conditions of reduction of collective intentionality. While the philosophical debate has contributed important insights into the former, recent advances in the cognitive sciences offer novel resources to tackle the latter. Drawing on Michael Tomasello’s research in the ontogeny of shared intentionality in early instances of interaction based on joint attention, I propose an empirically informed argument of what it would take to address the ontological question of irreducibility, thus making a step forward in the naturalization of collective intentionality. (shrink)
In this intriguing book, Moira Gatens and Genevieve Lloyd show us that in spite of-or rather because of-Spinoza's apparent strangeness, his philosophy can be a rich source for cultural self-understanding in the present. Collective Imaginings draws on recent reassessments of the philosophy of Spinoza and develops new ways of conceptualizing issues of freedom and difference. These newly contextualized theories are easily applied to contemporary issues, such as environmental debates, issues of feminism, the conception of democracy, and the idea of (...) the individual and community, providing relevance to our everyday lives. A fine counter to the 'read and raid' and the 'read and destroy' schools of history of philosophy . . . a careful interpretation of Spinoza that helps resolve contemporary problems about the relation between (what we think of as) the individual and the conflicts and harmony that form social life. -- Ame;lie Rorty, Brandeis University A fresh look at Spinoza and how his thoughtis applicable today. (shrink)
The paper discussed and analyzes collective and joint intentions of various strength. Thus there are subjectively shared collective intentions and intersubjectively shared collective intentions as well as collective intentions which are objectively and intersubjectively shared. The distinction between collective and private intentions is considered from several points of view. Especially, it is emphasized that collective intentions in the full sense are in the we-mode , whereas private intentions are in the I-mode . The paper (...) also surveys recent discussion in the literature concerning the nature of collective and joint intention and defends the author's accounts against criticisms. (shrink)
This paper uses the economic crisis of 2008 as a case study to examine the explanatory validity of collective mental representations. Distinguished economists such as Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz attribute collective beliefs, desires, intentions, and emotions to organizations such as banks and governments. I argue that the most plausible interpretation of these attributions is that they are metaphorical pointers to a complex of multilevel social, psychological, and neural mechanisms. This interpretation also applies to collective knowledge in (...) science: scientific communities do not literally have collective representations, but social mechanisms do make important contributions to scientific knowledge. (shrink)
We argue that conceptual analyses of collective action should be informed by game-theoretic analyses of collective action. In particular, we argue that Ariel Rubenstein’s so-called ‘Electronic Mail Game’ provides a useful model of collective action, and of the formation of collective intentions.
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 Gilberts reconsideration of Durkheims viewpoint in the framework of the plural subjects account is one of the most famous. This has implications in the history and the sociology of scienceas well asin the history and sociology of philosophyalthough Gilbert only outlined them in the former fields and said (...) nothing about the latter. Symmetrically but independently, a historian of science, Mara Beller, has recently challenged Kuhns conception of the role of consensus in sciences in a brilliant analysis by carefully studying the history of Copenhagen School of Quantum Mechanics. Not only does she show the role of disagreement and controversies (doubting whether there was any collective belief characteristic in this group of physicists), but she even shakes up the very idea of individual beliefs. Each scientist (Heisenberg, Bohr, etc.) could be seen as divided into several selves. This paper contends that these two conceptions open important new horizons in several domains, especially if they are linked together. The paper assesses this claim in the light of empirical examples like the Vienna Circle, Copenhagen School, and, eventually, Cartesian philosophy. Key Words: plural subject polyphony collective briefs Cartesian argumentation. (shrink)
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 journal, Wisnewski (2005) unfortunately mischaracterizes the problem of meaning in social criticism. Implementing status problems in studies of collective intentions and construing social facts as both subjective and objective in character helps explain why agents can have persistent "misunderstandings" of social objects. (shrink)
The paper begins with a discussion of Philip Pettit's distinction between individualistic and collectivistic reasoning strategies. I argue that many of his examples, when correctly analysed, do not give rise to what he calls the discursive dilemma. I argue for a collectivistic strategy, which is a holistic premise-driven strategy. I will concentrate on three aspects of collective reasoning, which I call the publicity aspect, the collective acceptance aspect, and the historical constraint aspect: First, the premises of collective (...) reasoning, unlike the premises of a private individual, have to be public in some sense. Second, the group members collectively accept the public premises, and thereby commit themselves to following them in their collective practical reasoning.Third, a person need not be consistent with his earlier private judgements, he is free to change his mind, but prior collective judgements, if not collectively abandoned, constrain the member's future judgements and decisions. I conclude that collective practical reasoning can be accounted for without collectivist ontological commitments. (shrink)
In a couple of recent papers Deborah Tollefsen has argued that groups should be viewed as having some of the intentional and epistemic properties as do individuals. In “Organizations as True Believers” she argues that corporations really do have intentional states.1 In “Collective Epistemic Agency”2 she continues her development of group agency and she now argues that collectives can be genuine knowers. The target of her arguments is, naturally, the wide spread view that “knowers are individuals, and knowledge is (...) generated by mental processes and lodged in the mind-brain.”3 According to Tollefsen, “An epistemic agent is a deliberator that is subject to epistemic assessment; she can be charged with incoherency, inconsistency, ambiguity, and so on.”4 Further, “To be a deliberator in the rich sense in which you or I deliberate is to be subject to the immediacy that is characteristic of reason. When we engage in reasoning (and assuming we have the appropriate desires) we are moved to act immediately or think in accordance with the reasons that we arrive at through deliberation.”5 When we identify which attitudes and acts should be shaped or informed, then such identification takes place from a point of view. Typically, the point of view is the first person singular I, but Tollefsen argues that reflections on group deliberation show that the we-concept often marks the point of view in question. So, Tollefsen argues in effect that 1. A group can be a deliberator 2. A deliberator, in the sense being discussed, is an epistemic agent 3. An epistemic agent can have knowledge 4. So a group can have knowledge. The bulk of Tollefsen’s paper, “Collective Epistemic Agency,” is focused on arguing that (1) is true, i.e., that a group can be a deliberator. One of the examples she uses to make her case involves the decision made by a college admissions committee. The three committee members consider each candidate and vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ depending on whether or not the candidate should be accepted into the program.. (shrink)
Collectivities (states, club, unions, teams, etc.) are often fruitfully spoken of as though they possessed representational capacities. Despite this fact, many philosophers reject the possibility that collectivities might be thought of as genuinely representational. This paper addresses the most promising objection to the possibility of collective representation, the claim that there is no explanatory value to positing collective representations above and beyond the representational states of the individuals that compose a particular collectivity. I claim that this argument either (...) proves too much, also giving us reason to abandon person-level representations, or it proves too little, demonstrating precisely the sort of continuity between individual and collective representations that would warrant the positing of genuine collective representations. I conclude with a brief sketch of two promising cases of collective representation that lend credence to my claim that individual representations and collective representations are analogous in a way that warrants the study of collective mentality from within the cognitive sciences. (shrink)
What is collective about collective memory? Two different concepts of collective memory compete-one refers to the aggregation of socially framed individual memories and one refers to collective phenomena sui generis-though the difference is rarely articulated in the literature. This article theorizes the differences and relations between individualist and collectivist understandings of collective memory. The former are open to psychological considerations, including neurological and cognitive factors, but neglect technologies of memory other than the brain and the (...) ways in which cognitive and even neurological patterns are constituted in part by genuinely social processes. The latter emphasize the social and cultural patternings of public and personal memory, but neglect the ways in which those processes are constituted in part by psychological dynamics. This article advocates, through the example of traumatic events, a strategy of multidimensional rapprochement between individualist and collectivist approaches. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: It is pointed out that the organisation of an organism necessarily involves fields which are the only means to make an approximately simultaneous tuning of the different subsystems of the organism-as-a-whole. Nature uses the olfactory fields, the acoustic fields, the electromagnetic fields and quantum-vacuum fields. Fields with their ability to comprehend the whole organism are the natural basis of a global interaction between organisms and of collective consciousness. Evidences are presented that electromagnetic potential fields mediate the collective (...) field of consciousness. This result offers for the first time experimental access to the study of collective consciousness by measuring the field-related information-carrying potentials and their derivatives, the electric and magnetic fields between different individuals. The electrodynamic interaction of different brains/minds generates induction and in this way excitement, enhancement in the baseline of the interacting brains? activity. A list of empirical evidences is presented here proving the existence of this "interactive excitement" effect in the known phenomenon of collective consciousness. The fundamental phenomenon of the collective consciousness is known as "social facilitation" or "group effect". The character and completion of consciousness are outlined in the frame of this picture, and the role of the "group effect" or "social facilitation" as a primary factor in developing consciousness is described. A quantum-physical model of a multi-layered consciousness is presented, where the layering is expressed by the subsequent subtlety of the masses of the material carriers of information. I show that as the mental levels get deeper and more sensitive the couplings are on more and more global scales of their environment. I point out that direct, immediate action in distance actually exists in the electromagnetic field, which is the coupling, mediator field between waves and particles. I show how the environmental, natural and cosmic fields are determinative sources of our consciousness. The results presented point out that the Collective Field of Consciousness is a significant physical factor of the biosphere. I show that the morphogenetic field has an electromagnetic (EM) nature. EM fields are vacuum fields. Different basic forms of vacuum fields exist, and all kinds of fields, including the particle-mediated fields as well, when overlapping each other, seem to be in a direct resonant coupling, and form a complex, merged biofield. The vacuum model of consciousness presented here points to the inductive generation of consciousness, and to its self-initiating nature. Individual and collective methods, as well as the experimental possibilities of a global healing and improving the consciousness field of mankind are suggested. Keywords: olfactory, acoustic, electromagnetic, vacuum fields, generation of consciousness, evolution of collective consciousness, social evolution, completion of consciousness, healing. (shrink)
Social scientists have traditionally attempted to avoid extending strategies for acquiring experimental knowledge to the sphere of the social. Bruno Latour, however, has introduced a notion of the collective experiment, an experiment conducted by and with us all. In this short paper I seek to explore, by way of elucidating the talk of collective experiments, that Latour's notion has long since existed in the theory and practice of ecological design and restoration. Practitioners in ecological restoration projects find themselves (...) in a situation of double contingency, since neither do they know how nature will respond to their intervention nor is their interpretation of these responses already certain. Experimental practice in society then becomes the proceduralization of this contingency. (shrink)
One of the primary views on our supposed obligation towards our descendants in the context of environmental problems invokes the idea of the rights of future generations. A growing number of authors also hold that the descendants of those victimized by historical injustices, including colonialism and slavery, have the right to demand financial reparations for the sufferings of their distant ancestors. However, these claims of intergenerational rights face theoretical difficulties, notably the non-identity problem. To circumvent this problem in a relationship (...) between present and future generations, some rights theorists replace future individual rights with such collective rights. Others advance the threshold conception of harm in discussing intergenerational relationships in general. Despite the significant implications these revisionist views might have, few efforts have been made to scrutinize their solidity. To plug such a gap in the literature, this paper examines to what extent the collective understanding of intergenerational rights is pertinent. I also explore the virtues and drawbacks of the threshold interpretation of harm. The paper concludes by suggesting that the motivation behind these and other versions of the rights theory suffers from the ambiguity of a traditional dichotomy between perfect and imperfect duties. (shrink)
The claim is that some collective entities can be thought of as part of the moral realm by virtue of their status as objects of moral concern. Collectivities are defined in terms of irreducibly corporate action and distinctive conditions of persisting identity. Their lack of sentience does not preclude moral concern, and their raison d'être may render moral concern for them appropriate. Recent attempts by Pettit, McMahon, and Broome to limit the moral realm to individuals are considered. They are (...) rebutted on the grounds that they rest heavily on pre-existing moral intuitions; they ascribe a stronger thesis than is necessary to the sponsors of the moral significance of non-individuals; and they wrongly assume that what has value for individuals must have value because it has value for individuals. Collectivities can have moral importance even if they lack the intrinsic moral importance attaching to human beings, and substantial consequences follow from that fact. In particular, routine appeals to the distinctness of persons become more problematic when collectivities, themselves composed entirely of persons, have independent moral significance which needs to be taken into account. That will affect both assessment of moral consequences and the process of moral decision-making. (shrink)
Intentional collective action -- Collective moral responsibility -- Collective guilt -- Individual responsibility for (and in) collective wrongs -- Collective obligation, individual obligation, and individual moral responsibility -- Individual moral responsibility in wrongful social practice.
The main purpose of this paper is to argue that there are no minority moral rights. Rights claimed to be minority moral rights, such as land rights and hunting rights of indigenous peoples, and the political and language rights of some minority cultures, turn out to be either collective moral rights which are not also minority moral rights, or else to be merely (possibly morally justified) legal minority rights which are not also minority moral rights.
Among the collective as well as individual responsibilities of nurses as professionals is that of maintaining and improving the quality of nursing care. In exchange for monopoly status and professional authority to control nursing practice, the profession is charged with the responsibility of meeting the nursing care needs of the community. If one claims, as I do, that one of the collective responsibilities of nurses is maintenance of high nursing standards, we must examine what action is required of (...) nurses who find themselves in work contexts in which standards and practice are deficient. Specifically, is the strike weapon one that may or even ought to be used? In this essay, answers to the following two questions are advanced: (a) What conditions must obtain for it to be (morally) right for nurses in a particular health care facility to strike? (b) Does their collective responsibility with regard to nursing standards and practice ever entail that a group of nurses has a (moral) duty to strike? The essay concludes with a consideration of how one balances the collective responsibility to maintain and improve the quality of nursing care with an individual nurse's responsibility to her/his own patients. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
In the first part of the paper an argument is developed to the effect that (1) there is no moral ground for individual persons to feel responsible for or guilty about crimes of their group to which they have in no way contributed; and (2) since there is no irreducibly collective responsibility nor guilt at any time, there is no question of them persisting over time. In the second part it is argued that there is nevertheless sufficient reason for (...) innocent individual members of a group (that persists over time) to take on responsibility and guilt for the evil other (earlier) members have committed. The reason depends on the acceptability of a particular psychological theory of personal identity. (shrink)
In this paper, I am concerned with persons' capacity for joint action. I start by suggesting that approaches which seek to account for that capacity in terms of collective intentionality face a problem: there are actions that clearly seem to qualify as collective even though the involved persons cannot be said to entertain an overarching 'We'-intention (however one characterizes this notion). I then go on to develop an alternative account of action that loosely draws on Elizabeth Anscombe's action (...) theory and show how this alternative account can be applied to joint action. In so doing, I stress the importance of the phenomenal dimension of agency. (shrink)
George Fletcher emerges in his writing, as in his life, as a colorful and highly individual figure. The last thing one expects of him is the surrender of individual identity to an anonymous submersion in the collective. Yet doctrinally he is a collectivist. In his recent writings, he has been seeking to collectivize just about everything: action, responsibility, guilt, liability, self-defense, criminal punishment, international criminal law, action in war, war crimes, and so on.
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”. (shrink)
Theories of intergenerational obligations usually take the shape of theories of distributive (social) justice. The complexities involved in intergenerational obligations force theorists to simplify. In this article I unpack two popular simplifications: the inevitability of future generations, and the Hardinesque assumption that future individuals are a burden on society but a benefit to parents. The first assumption obscures the fact that future generations consist of individuals whose existence can be a matter of voluntary choice, implying that there are individuals who (...) are responsible and accountable for that choice and for its consequences. The second assumption ignores the fact that the benefits and burdens of future individuals are complex, and different for different “beneficiaries” or “victims.” Introducing individual responsibility for procreation as a (crucially) relevant variable, and allowing a more sophisticated understanding of the impact of new individuals, generates grounds to prioritize the individual’s interest in responsibility for (creating and equipping) future individuals over any collective intergenerational obligation. I illustrate this by introducing a series of moral duties that take precedence over, and perhaps even void, possible collective redistributive duties. (shrink)
This paper explores some connections between the philosophically central topic of intersubjectivity highlighted in John Ziman's article and the notion of collective consciousness, which has received very little formal attention in mainstream philosophy. The deconstruction of the Cartesian model of isolated spheres of consciousness which the intersubjective viewpoint brings about is supported by considerations from Kant's critical account of transcendental psychology. The phenomenon of empathy, an essential component in the achievement of intersubjective consensus, is related to the possibility of (...) shared experiences, i.e. of two or more individuals participating in the same conscious experience. The use of mental concept-words applied to collectives of persons is interpreted as more than a mere metaphor; this interpretation is supported by comparison with complex collective behaviours in other social species. It is necessary to say that this paper very much represents work in progress-- other commitments have prevented the author from supporting many of the points made with references or further analysis at this stage, and it is hoped merely that this exploratory essay will provide useful ideas for further research. (shrink)
There is a widespread assumption that responsibility in health care is vested in the last resort in the individual doctor who is caring for a given patient. In the first section of this article I shall try to bring out the plausibility of this assumption, and examine the concept of collective responsibility which it allows. In the second and third sections I shall try to show the fatal weaknesses of the assumption in its unmodified form, and shall argue that (...) if we are to understand the nature of health care at the present time we must take the norm to be collective and not individual responsibility. I shall discuss the two relevant senses of collective responsibility and try to show how they can be reconciled with what is acceptable in the widespread assumption of individual responsibility. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
We investigate under what conditions a given set of collective judgments can arise from a specific voting procedure. In order to answer this question, we introduce a language similar to modal logic for reasoning about judgment aggregation procedures. In this language, the formula expresses that is collectively accepted, or that is a group judgment based on voting. Different judgment aggregation procedures may be underlying the group decision making. Here we investigate majority voting, where holds if a majority of individuals (...) accepts, consensus voting, where holds if all individuals accept, and dictatorship. We provide complete axiomatizations for judgment sets arising from all three aggregation procedures. (shrink)
In this paper I consider the general view of terrorism put forward by Jan Narveson in his “Pacificism and Terrorism: Why We Should Condemn Both” and by Alan Rosenbaum in his “On Terrorism and the Just War: Some Philosophical Reflections.” This is the view that terrorism is morally indefensible. Contra Narveson and Rosenbaum, I argue that some forms of terrorism are morally defensible in some circumstances.In the first section of the paper I will discuss the definition of terrorism, including the (...) definitions put forward by Narveson and Rosenbaum. In the second section, I will outline an account of collective moral responsibility as a necessary precursor to identifying potentially morally defensible forms of terrorism. In the third section I outline a morally defensible form of terrorism, namely terrorism in which certain categories of morally culpable non-attackers are targeted. (shrink)
The idea of a collective, but not necessarily universal epistemological subject is not only inherent in African tradition but also in the sciences and humanities as understood in the western tradition. In this paper I propose to delineate this collective subject by means of the construction of the Marxian concept of a theoretical representative of a social class . This allows for avoiding a trap that is necessarily faced by any collectivist viewpoint.
The positions Ross & Spurrett (R&S) take on issues of information, causality, functionalism, and emergence are actually implicit in the theory and practice of statistical physics, specifically in the way it relates macroscopic collective coordinates to microscopic physics. The reasons for taking macroscopic physical variables like temperature or magnetization to be real apply equally to mental properties like pain.