Can groups be rational agents over and above their individual members? We argue that group agents are distinguished by their capacity to mimic the way in which individual agents act and that this capacity must 'supervene' on the group members' contributions. But what is the nature of this supervenience relation? Focusing on group judgments, we argue that, for a group to be rational, its judgment on a particular proposition cannot generally be a function of the members' (...) individual judgments on that proposition. Rather, it must be a function of their individual sets of judgments across many propositions. So, knowing what the group members individually think about some proposition does not generally tell us how the group collectively adjudicates that proposition: the supervenience relation must be 'set-wise', not 'proposition-wise'. Our account preserves the individualistic view that group agency is nothing mysterious, but also suggests that a group agent may hold judgments that are not directly continuous with its members' corresponding individual judgments. (shrink)
The possibility of group minds or group mental states has been considered by a number of authors addressing issues in social epistemology and related areas (Goldman 2004, Pettit 2003, Gilbert 2004, Hutchins 1995). An appeal to group minds might, in the end, do indispensable explanatory work in the social or cognitive sciences. I am skeptical, though, and this essay lays out some of the reasons for my skepticism. The concerns raised herein constitute challenges to the advocates of (...)group minds (or group mental states), challenges that might be overcome as theoretical and empirical work proceeds. Nevertheless, these hurdles are, I think, genuine and substantive, so much so that my tentative conclusion will not be optimistic. If a group mind is supposed to be a single mental system having two or more minds as proper parts,1 the prospects for group minds seem dim. (shrink)
The capacity to engage with art is a human universal present in all cultures and just about every individual human. This indicates that this capacity is evolved. In this Critical Notice of Denis Dutton's The Art Instinct, I discuss various evolutionary scenarios and their consequences. Dutton and I both reject the "spandrel" approach that originates from the work of Gould and Lewontin. Dutton proposes, following work of Geoffrey Miller, that art is sexually selected--that art-production is a sign of a fit (...) genome in males. I argue that while assortative mating may well have had a role in the evolution of "the art instinct", group selection is a better explanation. I also take issue with Dutton's "cluster concept" approach to defining art, and argue that it is a universal and essential characteristic of art that it is appreciated both for what it expresses and for the way that it expresses. It thus requires a reflexive capacity that is not operative in the appreciation of sport spectacles and pornography. (shrink)
Are companies, churches, and states genuine agents? Or are they just collections of individuals that give a misleading impression of unity? This question is important, since the answer dictates how we should explain the behaviour of these entities and whether we should treat them as responsible and accountable on the model of individual agents. Group Agency offers a new approach to that question and is relevant, therefore, to a range of fields from philosophy to law, politics, and the social (...) sciences. Christian List and Philip Pettit argue that there really are group or corporate agents, over and above the individual agents who compose them, and that a proper approach to the social sciences, law, morality, and politics must take account of this fact. Unlike some earlier defences of group agency, their account is entirely unmysterious in character and, despite not being technically difficult, is grounded in cutting-edge work in social choice theory, economics, and philosophy. (shrink)
Recently, there has been a debate focusing on the question of whether groups can literally have beliefs. For the purposes of epistemology, however, the key question is whether groups can have knowledge. More specifi cally, the question is whether “group views” can have the key epistemic features of belief, viz., aiming at truth and being epistemically rational. I argue that, while groups may not have beliefs in the full sense of the word, group views can have these key (...) epistemic features of belief. However, I argue that on Margaret Gilbert's infl uential “plural subject” account of group belief, group views are unlikely to be epistemically rational. (shrink)
We consider the question: under what circumstances can the concept of adaptation be applied to groups, rather than individuals? Gardner and Grafen (2009, J. Evol. Biol.22: 659–671) develop a novel approach to this question, building on Grafen's ‘formal Darwinism’ project, which defines adaptation in terms of links between evolutionary dynamics and optimization. They conclude that only clonal groups, and to a lesser extent groups in which reproductive competition is repressed, can be considered as adaptive units. We re-examine the conditions under (...) which the selection–optimization links hold at the group level. We focus on an important distinction between two ways of understanding the links, which have different implications regarding group adaptationism. We show how the formal Darwinism approach can be reconciled with G.C. Williams’ famous analysis of group adaptation, and we consider the relationships between group adaptation, the Price equation approach to multi-level selection, and the alternative approach based on contextual analysis. (shrink)
David Sloan Wilson has recently revived the idea of a group mind as an application of group selectionist thinking to cognition. Central to my discussion of this idea is the distinction between the claim that groups have a psychology and what I call the social manifestation thesis-a thesis about the psychology of individuals. Contemporary work on this topic has confused these two theses. My discussion also points to research questions and issues that Wilson's work raises, as well as (...) their connection to externalist conceptions of the mind familiar since the work of Putnam and Burge. (shrink)
A morally objectionable outcome can be overdetermined by the actions of multiple individual agents. In such cases, the outcome is the same regardless of what any individual does or does not do. (For a clear example of such a case, imagine the execution of an innocent person by a firing squad.) We argue that, in some of these types of cases, (a) there exists a group agent, a moral agent constituted by individual agents; (b) the group agent is (...) guilty of violating a moral obligation; however, (c) none of the individual agents violate any of their moral obligations. We explicate and defend this view, and consider its applications to problems generated by anthropogenic climate change and electoral politics. (shrink)
The Berlin Group for scientific philosophy was active between 1928 and 1933 and was closely related to the Vienna Circle. In 1930, the leaders of the two Groups, Hans Reichenbach and Rudolf Carnap, launched the journal Erkenntnis. However, between the Berlin Group and the Vienna Circle, there was not only close relatedness but also significant difference. Above all, while the Berlin Group explored philosophical problems of the actual practice of science, the Vienna Circle, closely following Wittgenstein, was (...) more interested in problems of the language of science. The book includes first discussion ever (in three chapters) on Walter Dubislav’s logic and philosophy. Two chapters are devoted to another author scarcely explored in English, Kurt Grelling, and another one to Paul Oppenheim who became an important figure in the philosophy of science in the USA in the 1940s–1960s. Finally, the book discusses the precursor of the Nord-German tradition of scientific philosophy, Jacob Friedrich Fries. Mehr anzeigen Weniger anzeigen . (shrink)
Talk of group minds has arisen in a number of distinct traditions, such as in sociological thinking about the “madness of crowds” in the 19th-century, and more recently in making sense of the collective intelligence of social insects, such as bees and ants. Here we provide an analytic framework for understanding a range of contemporary appeals to group minds and cognate notions, such as collective agency, shared intentionality, socially distributed cognition, transactive memory systems, and group-level cognitive adaptations.
Can the state, as opposed to its individual human members in their personal capacity, intelligibly seek to avoid blame for unjustified wrongdoing by invoking excuses (as opposed to justifications)? Insofar as it can, should such claims ever be given moral and legal recognition? While a number of theorists have denied it in passing, the question remains radically underexplored. -/- In this article (in its penultimate draft version), I seek to identify the main metaphysical and moral objections to state excuses, and (...) begin to investigate their strength. I work from the ecumenical assumption that general understandings of modern states as group moral agents proper or as mere fictional points of imputation for individual behaviour are both plausible, and that the question of state excuses should be asked in terms of both paradigms. Issues addressed include: the lack of state consciousness/affect, the nature and relevance of developmental and executive defects in group agents, the value of state interests and how interests relate to plausible claims of excuses, the shortfall of responsibility argument for group responsibility and its interface with state excuses, the symbolic and consequential (dis)value that state excuses may have, as well as concerns that states are entities that should live up to outstandingly high virtuous standards of impartiality and equanimity. -/- I conclude that even if the range of excuses available to states does not overlap neatly with excuses available to ordinary individuals, some excuses may still be morally available to states. More generally, I emphasize the need for a systematic discussion of group excuses writ large, and of their relationship with the wider question of when group entities may legitimately be singled out to bear adverse normative consequences for wrongdoing. (shrink)
In this article, I present some new group level interpretations of probability, and champion one in particular: a consensus-based variant where group degrees of belief are construed as agreed upon betting quotients rather than shared personal degrees of belief. One notable feature of the account is that it allows us to treat consensus between experts on some matter as being on the union of their relevant background information. In the course of the discussion, I also introduce a novel (...) distinction between intersubjective and interobjective interpretations of probability. (shrink)
This paper proposes a view uniformly extending expected utility calculations to both individual and group choice contexts. Three related cases illustrate the problems inherent in applying expected utility to group choices. However, these problems do not essentially depend upon the tact that more than one agent is involved. I devise a modified strategy allowing the application of expected utility calculations to these otherwise problematic cases. One case, however, apparently leads to contradiction. But recognizing the falsity of proposition (1) (...) below allows the resolution of the contradiction, and also allows my modified strategy to resolve otherwise paradoxical cases of group choice such as the Prisoners' Dilemma: -/- (1) lf an agent x knows options A and B are both available, and x knows that were he to do A he would be better off (in every respect) than were he to do B, then doing A is more rational for x than doing B. (shrink)
Wegner, Giuliano, and Hertel (1985) defined the notion of a transactive memory system (TMS) as a group level memory system that “involves the operation of the memory systems of the individuals and the processes of communication that occur within the group (p. 191). Those processes are the collaborative procedures (“transactions”) by which groups encode, store, and retrieve information that is distributed among their members. Over the past 25+ years, the conception of a TMS has progressively garnered an increased (...) interest among social and organizational psychologists, communication scholars, and management theorists (Ren & Argote 2011). But there remains considerable disagreement about how exactly Wegner’s appeal to group memory should be understood. My goal in this paper is contribute to this debate, by articulating more clearly the value of conceptualizing groups as TMSs. This value, I argue, consists in providing us with a blueprint for how to explain group memory in terms of collective information-processing mechanisms. Collective information-processing mechanisms are dependent on, and interact with, the brain-bound information-processing of individuals, but cannot be reduced to the latter. In my analysis, I lean on extant accounts of mechanistic explanation in the philosophy of science (Bechtel & Richardson 1993; Machamer, Darden, & Craver 2000; Wimsatt 2007) that have been used to analyze the explanatory practices of psychology and cognitive neuroscience (Bechtel 2008, 2009). Based on my reconstruction of Wegner’s conceptualization of a TMS, I argue that the reality of emergent group cognition is compatible with its mechanistic explanation. More generally, my analysis shows that group cognition cannot be reduced to individual cognition, while avoiding the false dilemma between “wholism” and “nothing but-ism” which has hampered traditional construals of the “group mind” thesis (Allport 1968). (shrink)
A growing body of work in certain areas of cognitive science and related social sciences promises to resuscitate the “emergentist” idea that a group as a whole can have cognitive properties over and above those had by its members. For the naturalistically inclined philosopher of mind, there are good reasons to take close note of this development. First, if group processes can sometimes be profitably analyzed in terms of information-processing capacities such as memory or problem-solving typical of individual (...) cognition, this might constitute new evidence for the multiple realizability of at least certain cognitive kinds. Second, thinking about group cognition provides a fertile test-bed for thinking about the compatibility of different levels of cognitive explanation. In this paper, I draw on two relevantly related theoretical perspectives to defend the intelligibility of group cognition against several recent objections: first, the treatment of multi-level selection in evolutionary biology; and second, the treatment of multi-level mechanistic explanations in contemporary philosophy of science. (shrink)
The “extended mind” thesis (Clark, 2008) has focused primarily on the interactions between single individuals and cognitive artifacts, resulting in a relative neglect of interactions between people. At the same time, the idea that groups can have cognitive properties of their own has gained new ascendancy in various fields concerned with collective behavior. My main goal in this paper is to propose an understanding of group cognition as an emergent form of socially distributed cognition. To that end, I first (...) clarify the relevant notions of cognition and emergence that are at play in the contemporary debate. I then apply our conceptual framework to recent developments in the theory of transactive memory systems (Wegner, 1986), arguing that the idea of group cognition is neither trivial nor shrouded in metaphysical mystery. (shrink)
In this paper, we approach the idea of group cognition from the perspective of the “extended mind” thesis, as a special case of the more general claim that systems larger than the individual human, but containing that human, are capable of cognition (Clark, 2008; Clark & Chalmers, 1998). Instead of deliberating about “the mark of the cognitive” (Adams & Aizawa, 2008), our discussion of group cognition is tied to particular cognitive capacities. We review recent studies of group (...) problem-solving and group memory which reveal that specific cognitive capacities that are commonly ascribed to individuals are also aptly ascribed at the level of groups. These case studies show how dense interactions among people within a group lead to both similarity-inducing and differentiating dynamics that affect the group's ability to solve problems. This supports our claim that groups have organization-dependent cognitive capacities that go beyond the simple aggregation of the cognitive capacities of individuals. Group cognition is thus an emergent phenomenon in the sense of Wimsatt (1986). We further argue that anybody who rejects our strategy for showing that cognitive properties can be instantiated at multiple levels in the organizational hierarchy on a priori grounds is a “demergentist,” and thus incurs the burden of proof for explaining why cognitive properties are “stuck” at a certain level of organizational structure. Finally, we show that our analysis of group cognition escapes the “coupling-constitution” charge that has been leveled against the extended mind thesis (Adams & Aizawa, 2008). (shrink)
What drives much of the current philosophical interest in the idea of group cognition is its appeal to the manifestation of psychological properties—understood broadly to include states, processes, and dispositions—that are in some important yet elusive sense emergent with respect to the minds of individual group members. Our goal in this paper is to address a set of related, conditional questions: If human mentality is real yet emergent in a modest metaphysical sense only, then: (i) What would it (...) mean for a group to have emergent cognitive states? (ii) Is this even a metaphysically coherent view? (iii) Relative to which notion of emergence do we have reason to believe that certain groups in fact have emergent cognitive states? We shall argue that evidence from a wide variety of social science domains makes it plausible that there are group cognitive states and processes no less metaphysically emergent than human cognitive (and other special science) states and processes. (shrink)
Since the publication of Self Experiences in Groupin 1998-the first book to apply self psychology and intersubjectivity to group work-there have been tremendous advancements in the areas of affect, attachment, infant research, ...
This article explores issues associated with schooling and political justice. Such issues are understood in light of the contention surrounding how Western schooling contexts might best represent marginalised groups—in ways that accord them a political voice. The significance of group identity politics is explored drawing on international debates associated with ethnically segregated schooling. A postcolonial theorising of group identity highlights the ways in which segregated schooling can both support and undermine politically just representation for marginalised students. This theorising (...) draws attention to the problematic notion of voice in linking representation to identity in reductionist ways. The arguments presented point to the significance of people and their politics, rather than their membership to a particular identity group, in pursuing equity for marginalised groups. The article argues the imperative of understanding group identity as an aspect of negotiated social practice that can be drawn on in strategic and critical ways to address matters of political injustice. (shrink)
In my dissertation, I explore the remarkable talent of human beings to modify and co-opt resources of their material and socio-cultural environment, and integrate them with their biological capacities in order to enhance their cognitive prowess. In the first part, I clarify and defend the claim – known as the extended mind thesis – that a significant portion of human cognition literally extends beyond the head into the world, actively incorporating our bodies and an intricate web of material resources (Clark, (...) 2003, 2008; Wilson, 2004). Yet since much of distinctively human cognition occurs when we think in groups, I argue that the bias of this thesis to view cognition as an essentially solitary (albeit bodily or technologically extended) activity is misplaced. In the second part, I re-deploy the idea of cognitive extensions to establish a scientifically respectable version of the group mind thesis – i.e., the claim that groups can have emergent cognitive properties and capacities in their own right. (shrink)
The rationality of individual agents is secured for the most part by their make-up or design. Some agents, however – in particular, human beings – rely on the intentional exercise of thinking or reasoning in order to promote their rationality further; this is the activity that is classically exempliﬁed in Rodin’s sculpture of Le Penseur. Do group agents have to rely on reasoning in order to maintain a rational proﬁle? Recent results in the theory of judgment aggregation show that (...) under a range of plausible conditions they do. In a slogan: group agents are made, not born. (shrink)
Popper repeatedly emphasised the significance of a critical attitude, and a related critical method, for scientists. Kuhn, however, thought that unquestioning adherence to the theories of the day is proper; at least for ‘normal scientists’. In short, the former thought that dominant theories should be attacked, whereas the latter thought that they should be developed and defended (for the vast majority of the time). -/- Both seem to have missed a trick, however, due to their apparent insistence that each individual (...) scientist should fulfil similar functions (at any given point in time). The trick is to consider science at the group level; and doing so shows how puzzle solving and ‘offensive’ critical activity can simultaneously have a legitimate place in science. This analysis shifts the focus of the debate. The crucial question becomes ‘How should the balance between functions be struck?’. (shrink)
University of Cologne, Germany Joint action and group agency have emerged as focuses of attention in recent social theory and philosophy but they have rarely been connected with one another. The argument of this article is that whereas joint action involves people acting together to achieve any sort of result, group agency requires them to act together for the achievement of one result in particular: the construction of a centre of attitude and agency that satisfies the usual constraints (...) of consistency and rationality in adequate measure. The main discovery in the recent theory of group agency is that this result is not easily achieved; no regular voting procedure will ensure, for example, that a group of individually consistent agents will display consistency in group judgments. Key Words: groups group agents collective agents joint action joint intention. (shrink)
Farhad Dalal argues that people differentiate between races in order to make a distinction between the "haves" and "must-not-haves", and that this process is cognitive, emotional and political rather than biological. Examining the subject over the past thousand years, Race, Colour and the Process of Racialisation covers theories of racism and a general theory of difference based on the works of Fanon, Elias, Matte-Blanco and Foulkes, as well as application of this theory to race and racism. Farhad Dalal concludes that (...) the structures of society are reflected in the structures of the psyche, and both of these are colour coded. This book will be invaluable to students, academics and practitioners in the areas of psychoanalysis, group analysis, psychotherapy and counseling. (shrink)
Consider the paradox of altruism: the existence of truly altruistic behaviors is difﬁcult to reconcile with an evolutionary theory which holds that natural selection operates only on individuals, since in that case individuals should be unwilling to sacriﬁce their own ﬁtness for the sake of others. Evolutionists have frequently turned to the hypothesis of group selection to explain the existence of altruism; but, even setting aside difﬁculties about understanding the relationship between altruistic behaviors and morality, group selection cannot (...) explain the evolution of morality, since morality is a one-group phenomenon and group selection is a many-group phenomenon. After spelling out just what the problem is, this paper discusses several ways out and concludes by offering suggestions why one seems best. (shrink)
Wigner famously referred to the `unreasonable effectiveness' of mathematics in its application to science. Using Wigner's own application of group theory to nuclear physics, I hope to indicate that this effectiveness can be seen to be not so unreasonable if attention is paid to the various idealising moves undertaken. The overall framework for analysing this relationship between mathematics and physics is that of da Costa's partial structures programme.
According to one widely held view, a belief is fully justified only if it holds up against the strongest available counterarguments, and we can be appropriately confident that it does hold up only if there is free and open critical discussion of those beliefs between us and our epistemic peers. In this paper I argue that this common picture of ideal rational group inquiry interacts with epistemic problems concerning reasonable disagreement in a way that makes those problems particularly difficult (...) to resolve. By focusing on this idealized context, we get a clearer picture of the epistemic principles at issue. In the end, I argue that the best way to resolve the resulting epistemic conflicts is by appeal to the underdetermination of theory by evidence together with a principle of epistemic conservatism. (shrink)
We present a precise form of structural realism, called group structural realism , which identifies ‘structure’ in quantum theory with symmetry groups. However, working out the details of this view actually illuminates a major problem for structural realism; namely, a structure can itself have structure. This article argues that, once a precise characterization of structure is given, the ‘metaphysical hierarchy’ on which group structural realism rests is overly extravagant and ultimately unmotivated.
The question of why group-differentiated rights might be a requirement of justice has been a central focus of identity politics in recent decades. I attempt to bring some clarity to this discussion by proposing a typology to track the various ways in which individuals can be harmed or benefited as a consequence of their membership in social groups. It is the well-being of individuals that group-differentiated rights should be understood as protecting, and so clarity on the relationship between (...)group membership and well-being is vital. One of the problems with the way in which such justifications have often been formulated in the past has been that they inadvertently position the group as a handicap to be overcome, rather than a value to be protected. I seek to overcome this limitation by clearly specifying the circumstances under which group membership is a liability, and the circumstances under which it has value. While this distinction is important, in both cases there is a relevant interest at stake, and thus the groundwork can be laid for a defence of group-differentiated rights. (shrink)
The fact that much of our knowledge is gained through the testimony of others challenges a certain form of epistemic individualism. We are clearly not autonomous knowers. But the discussion surrounding testimony has maintained a commitment to what I have elsewhere called epistemic agent individualism. Both the reductionist and the anti-reductionist have focused their attention on the testimony of individuals. But groups, too, are sources of testimony - or so I shall argue. If groups can be testifiers, a natural question (...) to ask is whether our beliefs based on the testimony of groups are ever justified and whether such a justification is to be conferred inferentially or non-inferentially. I consider and dismiss the possibility of extending an anti-reductionist account of justification to our group testimonial beliefs. I also argue against a version of reductionism that would have our group testimonial beliefs justified only in so far as we were able to monitor the trustworthiness of members of the group. However, there are forms of reductionism that can be extended to make sense of the justification of our group testimonial beliefs. There are mechanisms for monitoring the trustworthiness and competency of a group (rather than its members) and, further, a variety of background beliefs allow us to assess the testimony of a group for reliability. (shrink)
The group selection controversy is about whether natural selection ever operates at the level of groups, rather than at the level of individual organisms. Traditionally, group selection has been invoked to explain the existence of altruistic behaviour in nature. However, most contemporary evolutionary biologists are highly sceptical of the hypothesis of group selection, which they regard as biologically implausible and not needed to explain the evolution of altruism anyway. But in their recent book, Elliot Sober and David (...) Sloan Wilson  argue that the widespread opposition to group selection is founded on conceptual confusion. The theories that have been propounded as alternatives to group selection are actually group selection in disguise, they maintain. I examine their arguments for this claim, and John Maynard Smith's arguments against it. I argue that Sober and Wilson arrive at a correct position by faulty reasoning. In the final section, I examine the issue of how to apply the principle of natural selection at different levels of the biological hierarchy, which underlies the dispute between Sober and Wilson and Maynard Smith. (shrink)
Endorsing the idea of group knowledge seems to entail the possibility of group belief as well, because it is usually held that knowledge entails belief. It is here studied whether it would be possible to grant that groups can have knowledge without being committed to the controversial view that groups can have beliefs. The answer is positive on the assumption that knowledge can be based on acceptance as well as belief. The distinction between belief and acceptance can be (...) seen as a refinement of the ordinary language concept of belief, and it may be useful in understanding the nature of epistemic justification and classifying various types of epistemic subjects. (shrink)
Reciprocal altruism was originally formulated in terms of individual selection and most theorists continue to view it in this way. However, this interpretation of reciprocal altruism has been challenged by Sober and Wilson (1998). They argue that reciprocal altruism (as well as all other forms of altruism) evolves by the process of group selection. In this paper, we argue that the original interpretation of reciprocal altruism is the correct one. We accomplish this by arguing that if fitness attaches to (...) (at minimum) entire life cycles, then the kind of fitness exchanges needed to form the group-level in such situations is not available. Reciprocal altruism is thus a result of individual selection and when it evolves, it does so because it is individually advantageous. (shrink)
The main task of the present paper is to investigate the nature of collective knowledge and discuss what kind of justificatory aspects are involved in it to discuss it from collective belief. The central kind of collective knowledge investigated is normatively binding knowledge attributed to a social group. A distinction is made between natural knowledge and constitutive knowledge related to social (especially institutional) matters. In the case of the latter kind of knowledge, in contrast to the former kind, justification (...) and the criteria of justification are purely social. Knowledge is regarded as a primitive, irreducible notion that accordingly does not fall prey to Gettier-type paradoxes. (shrink)
Abstract. Scientists have long puzzled over how homosexual orientation has evolved, given the assumed low relative fitness of homosexual individuals compared to heterosexual individuals. A number of theoretical models for the evolution of homosexuality have been postulated including balance polymorphism, "Fertile females", hypervariability of DNA sequences, kin selection, and "parental manipulation". In this paper, I propose a new group-selection model for the evolution of homosexuality which offers two advantages over existing models: (1) its non-assumption of genetic determinism, and (2) (...) its lack of dependency on an inefficient altruism relation and family dynamics theory. (shrink)
One common interpretation of the Hobbesian state of nature views itas a social dilemma, a natural extension of the well-knownprisoner''s dilemma to a group context. Kavka (1986)challenges this interpretation, suggesting that the appropriate wayto view the state of nature is as a quasi social dilemma. Iargue that Hobbes''s remarks on the rationality of keeping covenantsin the state of nature indicate that the quasi social dilemma doesnot accurately represent the state of nature. One possiblesolution, I suggest, views the state of (...) nature as a social dilemmabetween groups rather than individuals. Although thiscleanly represents the strategic problem faced in the state ofnature, it also means we should take intergroup dynamics intoaccount when putting forth a solution. I argue that Hobbes''ssolution of commonwealth by institution – the favored solution forHobbesian social contract theories – will not work in the state ofnature viewed this way. (shrink)
Much of human life consists of acting in a group context. We are members of several social groups Â– small social groups, organizations, nations, states, etc. As to groups, some of them are capable of action, e.g. teams and task groups, organizations, and states. Such group action is action as a group (in contrast to the group members just acting separately and as private persons toward a shared goal, for instance). Groups can only act through their (...) membersÂ’ actions. To give an example, a group of peace demonstrators gets the permission to march in the streets but is later accused of demolishing property due to some membersÂ’ lack of commitment to the groupÂ’s rules. These kinds of situations indicate that there is a need to take a closer look at what acting as a group member and what group membersÂ’ collective commitment involve and presuppose. I will below elucidate these notions in several different ways and try to show for which situations the various analyses are adequate. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to make an unlikely connection between the old question about the meaning of life and some important concepts in philosophy of biology. More precisely, I argue that while biology is unlikely to help us to figure out the meaning of life, the fact that this question has been considered to be such a crucial one could be explained with the help of some consideration of our evolutionary past. I argue that if there is evidence (...) for group selection in the course of human evolution, this may explain not the meaning of life but rather the reason why we are preoccupied with this question. First, I examine what group selection is and what role it played in human evolution. After surveying the evidence for the claim that in the course of human evolution we lived in isolated group societies, I analyse what influence this social structure had on our present psychological dispositions, including our quest for the meaning of life. (shrink)
In this paper, we offer an analysis of ‘group intentions.’ On our proposal, group intentions should be understood as a state of equilibrium among the beliefs of the members of a group. Although the discussion in this paper is non-technical, the equilibrium concept is drawn from the formal theory of interactive epistemology due to Robert Aumann. The goal of this paper is to provide an analysis of group intentions that is informed by important work in economics (...) and formal epistemology. (shrink)
Group selection is one acknowledged mechanism for the evolution of altruism. It is well known that for altruism to spread by natural selection, interactions must be correlated; that is, altruists must tend to associate with one another. But does group selection itself require correlated interactions? Two possible arguments for answering this question affirmatively are explored. The first is a bad argument, for it rests on a product/process confusion. The second is a more subtle argument, whose validity (or otherwise) (...) turns on issues concerning the meaning of multi-level selection and how it should be modelled. A cautious defence of the second argument is offered. Introduction Multi-level selection and the evolution of altruism Price's equation and multi-level selection Contextual analysis and multi-level selection The neighbour approach Recapitulation and conclusion. (shrink)
Abstract: Democracy is regularly heralded as the only form of government that treats political subjects as free and equal citizens. On closer examination, however, it becomes apparent that democracy unavoidably restricts individual freedom, and it is not the only way to treat all citizens equally. In light of these observations, we argue that the non-instrumental reasons to support democratic governance stem, not from considerations of individual freedom or equality, but instead from the importance of respecting group self-determination. If this (...) is correct, it implies that a state may choose democracy, but its right to self-determination means that it is also free, in principle, to decide in favor of some nondemocratic alternative. (shrink)
As a psychologist working with individuals, couples, and groups over the past 25 years, I have become convinced that group therapy holds effective possibilities for treatment that neither individual nor couples therapy can match. In theorizing about why group work holds such potency for changing lives, I have come to place it in a Sartrean context. I believe that group therapy offers a greater possibility for revolutionary praxis than individual or couples therapy. In saying this, I am (...) not talking about political or social revolution, but rather the possibility for radical change in a person's orientation toward the world, which groups tend to provoke and reinforce in a way that is more difficult in other forms of therapy. Sartre's concept of groups in his later philosophy, especially in Search for a Method and the Critique of Dialectical Reason, can help us to understand better this transformative power of groups. Such power is not always positive, of course, as Sartre himself recognizes—and as social and political history so amply demonstrates. But the nature of therapy groups is such that they at least have the potential for positive results. (shrink)
Groups, individuals, and evolutionary restraints : the making of the contemporary debate over group selection Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-14 DOI 10.1007/s10539-011-9255-5 Authors Andrew Hamilton, Center for Biology and Society, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-4501 USA Christopher C. Dimond, Center for Biology and Society, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-4501 USA Journal Biology and Philosophy Online ISSN 1572-8404 Print ISSN 0169-3867.
We live in interesting times. Two well-known biologists — E. O. Wilson and Richard Dawkins — and some of their well-known colleagues, who used to employ broadly similar selection models, now deeply disagree over the role of group selection in the evolution of eusociality (or so we argue). Yet they describe their models as interchangeable. As philosophers of biology, we wonder whether there is substantial (i.e., empirical) disagreement here at all, and, if there is, what is this disagreement about? (...) We argue that a substantial disagreement over the processes that caused eusociality best explains this debate, yet the common practice of using overarching definitions for “group selection” and “kin selection” renders empirical differences difficult to detect. We suggest Michael J. Wade’s use of these terms as a basis for models that reveal different selection processes. Wade’s models predict different outcomes for different processes and thus can be tested. (shrink)
It is argued in this paper that there can be both normative and nonnormative, merely factual group beliefs. The former involve the whole social group in question, while the latter only relate to the distributions of personal beliefs within the group. The paper develops a detailed theory, called the positional account of group beliefs, to explicate normative, group-involving group beliefs. Normative group beliefs are characterized within this approach in terms of joint acceptances of (...) views by the group members — or their representatives — acting in their right positions and tasks, and in a sense creating group commitments for all the members to accept (and keep accepting) the view in question. Also aggregate accounts of group belief are considered in the paper, especially the shared we-belief approach. Such aggregate accounts purport to account for merely factual group beliefs. (shrink)
For the sake of developing and evaluating public policy decisions aimed at combating terrorism, we need a precise public definition of terrorism that distinguishes terrorism from other forms of violence. Ordinary usage does not provide a basis for such a definition, and so it must be stipulative. I propose essentially pragmatic criteria for developing such a stipulative public definition. After noting that definitions previously proposed in the philosophical literature are inadequate based on these criteria, I propose an alternative, which I (...) call the 'group-target' definition and which distinguishes terrorism from other forms of violence by the distinctive principle of discrimination used by terrorists to identify legitimate targets. I argue that this definition meets the criteria for a satisfactory public definition, and suggest that based on it there is good reason to suspect the adequacy of anti-terrorism policies that rely predominantly on forceful interdiction of terrorists. (shrink)
This article argues against the view that affirmative action is wrong because it involves assigning group rights. First, affirmative action does not have to proceed by assigning rights at all. Second, there are, in fact, legitimate “group rights” both legal and moral; there are collective rights—which are exercised by groups—and membership rights—which are rights people have in virtue of group membership. Third, there are continuing harms that people suffer as blacks and claims to remediation for these harms (...) can fairly treat the (social) property of being black as tracking the victims of those harms. Affirmative action motivated in this way aims to respond to individual wrongs; wrongs that individuals suffer, as it happens, in virtue of their membership in groups. Finally, the main right we have when we are being considered for jobs and places at colleges is that we be treated according to procedures that are morally defensible. Morally acceptable procedures sometimes take account of the fact that a person is a member of a certain social group. (shrink)
There is currently much interest in bringing together the tradition of categorial grammar, and especially the Lambek calculus, with the recent paradigm of linear logic to which it has strong ties. One active research area is designing non-commutative versions of linear logic (Abrusci, 1995; Retoré, 1993) which can be sensitive to word order while retaining the hypothetical reasoning capabilities of standard (commutative) linear logic (Dalrymple et al., 1995). Some connections between the Lambek calculus and computations in groups have long been (...) known (van Benthem, 1986) but no serious attempt has been made to base a theory of linguistic processing solely on group structure. This paper presents such a model, and demonstrates the connection between linguistic processing and the classical algebraic notions of non-commutative free group, conjugacy, and group presentations. A grammar in this model, or G-grammar is a collection of lexical expressions which are products of logical forms, phonological forms, and inverses of those. Phrasal descriptions are obtained by forming products of lexical expressions and by cancelling contiguous elements which are inverses of each other. A G-grammar provides a symmetrical specification of the relation between a logical form and a phonological string that is neutral between parsing and generation modes. We show how the G-grammar can be oriented for each of the modes by reformulating the lexical expressions as rewriting rules adapted to parsing or generation, which then have strong decidability properties (inherent reversibility). We give examples showing the value of conjugacy for handling long-distance movement and quantifier scoping both in parsing and generation. The paper argues that by moving from the free monoid over a vocabulary V (standard in formal language theory) to the free group over V, deep affinities between linguistic phenomena and classical algebra come to the surface, and that the consequences of tapping the mathematical connections thus established can be considerable. (shrink)
When a group of persons such as a nation orcorporation has a relatively clear structureand set of decision procedures, it is capableof acting and should, it can well be argued, beconsidered morally as well as legallyresponsible. This is not because it is afull-fledged moral person, but becauseassigning responsibility is a human practice,and we have good moral reasons to adopt thepractice of considering such groupsresponsible. From such judgments, however,little follows about the responsibility ofindividual members of such groups; much moreneeds to (...) be ascertained about which officialsor executives are responsible for what beforewe can consider individual members of nationsor corporations responsible.Whether an unorganized group can be morallyresponsible is much less clear, but there havebeen useful discussions in recent years of thepossible responsibility of whites for racism,or males for sexism, and the like. In thisessay I explore arguments for consideringgroups or their members responsible for ethnicconflict. Such groups may lack a clearorganizational structure, but they are notrandom assortments of persons. Groups can andoften should take responsibility for theattitudes and actions of their members, and cansometimes be considered responsible for failingto do so. And persons often can and shouldtake responsibility for the attitudes andactions of the groups of which they aremembers. (shrink)
Majority rule is often adopted almost by default as a group decision rule. One might think, therefore, that the conditions under which it applies, and the argument on its behalf, are well understood. However, the standard arguments in support of majority rule display systematic deficiencies. This article explores these weaknesses, and assesses what can be said on behalf of majority rule.
Understanding how individual agency and group agency relate is of great importance for a range of philosophical and practical concerns, including responsibility ascription and institutional design. This article discusses the relation between corporate and individual responsibility in agency—in particular, the relation between corporate and individual control of actions. First, I criticize Christian List and Philip Pettit’s causal account of combined corporate and individual control. Second, I develop an alternative account in terms of structural control, and I show how this (...) gives a better grasp of the issue. Third, I argue for an act-dualism that complements my account of control and sheds further light on the relation between corporate and individual agency and responsibility. (shrink)
In this paper, the authors argue for two main claims: first, that the epistemic results of group deliberation can be superior to those of individual inquiry; and, second, that successful deliberative groups depend on individuals exhibiting deliberative virtues. The development of these group-deliberative virtues, the authors argue, is important not only for epistemic purposes but political purposes, as democracies require the virtuous deliberation of their citizens. Deliberative virtues contribute to the deliberative synergy of the group, not only (...) in terms of improving the quality of the group's present decisions, but also improving the background conditions for continued group deliberation. The authors sketch a preliminary schedule of these group-deliberative virtues modelled on Aristotle's conception of virtue as the mean between two extreme vices. The virtues discussed in this article include deliberative wit, friendliness, empathy, charity, temperance, courage, sincerity, and humility. (shrink)
Clinical Ethics and the Dynamics of Group Decision-Making: Applying the Psychological Data to Decisions Made by Ethics Committees Content Type Journal Article Pages 207-228 DOI 10.1007/s10730-009-9096-7 Authors Erica K. Rangel, Saint Louis University Department of Health Care Ethics 6333 North Rosebury Ave #3W St. Louis MO 63105 USA Journal HEC Forum Online ISSN 1572-8498 Print ISSN 0956-2737 Journal Volume Volume 21 Journal Issue Volume 21, Number 2.
An analysis of group justification enables us to understand what it means to say that a research group is justified in making a claim on the basis of evidence. I defend Frederick Schmitt's (1994) joint account of group justification by arguing against a simple summative account of group justification. Also, I respond to two objections to the joint account, one claiming that social epistemologists should always prefer the epistemic value of making true judgments to the epistemic (...) value of maintaining consistency, and another one claiming that the notion of joint commitment implicit in the joint account is epistemically unacceptable. (shrink)
This paper is mainly about cooperation as a collective action in a group context (acting in a position or participating in the performance of a group task, etc.), although the assumption of the presence of a group context is not made in all parts of the paper. The paper clarifies what acting as a group member involves, and it analytically characterizes the ‘‘we-mode’’ (thinking and acting as a group member) and the ‘‘I-mode’’ (thinking and acting (...) as a private person). (shrink)
Many recent studies of norm emergence employ the "prisoner's dilemma" (PD) paradigm, which focuses on the free-rider problem that can block the cooperation required for the emergence of social norms. This paper proposes an expansion of the PD paradigm to include a closely related game termed the "altruist's dilemma" (AD). Whereas egoistic behavior in the PD leads to collectively irrational outcomes, the opposite is the case in the AD: altruistic behavior (e.g., following the Golden Rule) leads to collectively irrational outcomes, (...) whereas egoistic behavior leads to Pareto-optimal outcomes. The analysis shows that PDs can be converted into ADs either by increasing cooperation costs or by diminishing marginal gains from cooperation; therefore ADs are as empirically abundant as PDs. In addition, the analysis shows that altruists are not the only type of actors who fall prey to the AD; egoists can fall into this trap as well if they possess a capacity for interpersonal control. Where group solidarity is defined analytically in terms of the extent of cooperation in both PDs and ADs, this paper presents a model based on rational choice to account for variations in solidarity. According to the proposed analysis, levels of group solidarity depend on the balance in the group between compliant control, which increases cooperation, and oppositional control, which reduces it. That balance, in turn, depends on the allocation of power within the group. (shrink)
Some defenders of the view that there is a common morality have conceived such morality as being universal, in the sense of extending across all cultures and times. Those who deny the existence of such a common morality often argue that the universality claim is implausible. Defense of common morality must take account of the distinction between descriptive and normative claims that there is a common morality. This essay considers these claims separately and identifies the nature of the arguments for (...) each claim. It argues that the claim that there is a universal common morality in the descriptive sense has not been successfully defended to date. It maintains that the claim that there is a common morality in the normative sense need not be understood as universalist. This paper advocates the concept of group specific common morality, including country-specific versions. It suggests that both the descriptive and the normative claims that there are country-specific common moralities are plausible, and that a country-specific normative common morality could provide the basis for a country's bioethics. (shrink)
The Ostrogorski paradox and the discursive dilemma are seemingly unrelated paradoxes of aggregation. The former is discussed in traditional social choice theory, while the latter is at the core of the new literature on judgment aggregation. Both paradoxes arise when, in a group, each individual consistently makes a judgment, or expresses a preference, (in the form of yes or no) over specific propositions, and the collective outcome is in some respect inconsistent. While the result is logically inconsistent in the (...) case of the discursive paradox, it is not stable with respect to the level of aggregation in the case of the Ostrogorski paradox. In the following I argue that, despite these differences, the two problems have a similar structure. My conclusion will be twofold: on the one hand, the similarities between the paradoxes support the claim that these problems should be tackled using the same aggregation procedure; on the other hand, applying the same procedure to these paradoxes will help clarify the strengths and weaknesses of the aggregation method itself. More specifically, I will show that an operator defined in artificial intelligence to merge belief bases can deal with both paradoxes. (shrink)
Can it ever be appropriate to feel guilt just because one's group has acted badly? Some say no, citing supposed features of guilt feelings as such. If one understands group action according to my plural subject account of groups, however, one can argue for the appropriateness of feeling guilt just because one's group has acted badly - a feeling that often occurs. In so arguing I sketch a plural subject account of groups, group intentions and (...) class='Hi'>group actions: for a group to intend (in the relevant sense) is for its members to be jointly committed to intend that such-and-such as a body. Individual group members need not be directly involved in the formation of the intention in order to participate in such a joint commitment. The core concept of joint commitment is in an important way holistic, not being reducible to a set of personal commitments over which each party holds sway. (shrink)
Considering the organization’s ethical context as a framework to investigate workplace phenomena, this field study of military reserve personnel examines the relationships among perceptions of psychosocial group variables, such as cohesiveness, helping behavior and peer leadership, employee job attitudes, and the likelihood of individuals’ withholding on-the-job effort, a form of organizational misbehavior. Hypotheses were tested with a sample of 290 individuals using structural equation modeling, and support for negative relationships between perceptions of positive group context and withholding effort (...) by individual employees was found. In addition, individual effort-performance expectancy and individual job satisfaction were negatively related to withholding effort. The findings provide evidence that individual perceptions of positive group context play a key role in the presence of misbehavior at work. The results indicate that positive group context might be an important element of ethical climate that should be managed to temper occurrence of such adverse work behavior. (shrink)
Informed consent and confidentiality supposedly minimize harm for research participants in all qualitative research methodologies, inclusive of one-on-one unstructured interviews and focus groups. This is not the case for the latter. Confidentiality and informed consent uniquely manifest themselves as endemic ethical dilemmas for focus group researchers. The principle of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) may be a more useful tool for those involved in focus group research: that is, let the researcher, the participants and the ethics committee (...) beware that the only ethical assurance that can be given to focus group participants is that there are few ethical assurances. These ethical dilemmas are not sufficiently realized in the literature, and if they are discussed, they are often dealt with within the focus group moderator’s preamble to the group discussion. This paper encourages the mandatory use of a participant information sheet sufficiently detailed to engender the participant’s active consent. Sufficient here means the participant must be made adequately aware of these endemic ethical dilemmas in advance, to allow them to consent to share responsibility for any ensuing harm. The focus group moderator is not their sole protector. (shrink)
We develop an account of laboratory models, which have been central to the group selection controversy. We compare arguments for group selection in nature with Darwin's arguments for natural selection to argue that laboratory models provide important grounds for causal claims about selection. Biologists get information about causes and cause-effect relationships in the laboratory because of the special role their own causal agency plays there. They can also get information about patterns of effects and antecedent conditions in nature. (...) But to argue that some cause is actually responsible in nature, they require an inference from knowledge of causes in the laboratory context and of effects in the natural context. This process, cause detection, forms the core of an analogical argument for group selection. We discuss the differing roles of mathematical and laboratory models in constructing selective explanations at the group level and apply our discussion to the units of selection controversy to distinguish between the related problems of cause determination and evaluation of evidence. Because laboratory models are at the intersection of the two problems, their study is crucial for framing a coherent theory of explanation for evolutionary biology. (shrink)
Recent discussions of rational deliberation in science present us with two extremes: unbounded optimism and sober pessimism. Helen Longino (1990) sees rational deliberation as the foundation of scientific objectivity. Miriam Solomon (1991) thinks it is overrated. Indeed, she has recently argued (2006) that group deliberation is detrimental to empirical success because it often involves groupthink and the suppression of dissent. But we need not embrace either extreme. To determine the value of rational deliberation we need to look more closely (...) at the practice and practitioners of science. I offer a closer look here by exploring the joint agency of small research teams. Although there are factors that contribute to the suppression of dissent in group contexts, a closer look at the literature on group dynamics suggests that there are ways to mitigate the effects of groupthink. Thus, there is reason to be cautiously optimistic about the value of rational deliberation within certain scientific contexts. (shrink)
Legal and ethical issues involved in group work are reviewed and discussed. Variations in different professional ethics codes are discussed. Recommendations for consideration by group leaders are made.
Human altruistic behavior has received a great deal of scientific attention over the past forty years. Altruistic-like behaviors found among insects and animals have illumined certain human behaviors, and the revival of interest in group selection has focused attention on how sacrificial altruism, although not adaptive for individuals, can be adaptive for groups. Curiously, at the same time that sociobiology has placed greater emphasis on the value of sacrificial altruism, Protestant ethics in America has moved away from it. While (...) Roman Catholic ethics has a longstanding tradition emphasizing an ordering of love, placing love of self second only to love for God, Protestant ethics in America has adopted a similar stance only recently, replacing a strong sacrificial ethic with one focusing on mutual regard for self and others. If sociobiology is correct about the significance of sacrificial altruistic behaviors for the survival of communities, this shift away from sacrificial agape by American Christianity may cut the community off from important resources for the development of a global ethic crucial for the survival of that faith community and humankind itself. (shrink)
If a group is modelled as a single Bayesian agent, what should its beliefs be? I propose an axiomatic model that connects group beliefs to beliefs of group members, who are themselves modelled as Bayesian agents, possibly with di¤erent priors and di¤erent information. Group beliefs are proven to take a simple multiplicative form if people’s information is independent, and a more complex form if information overlaps arbitrarily. This shows that group beliefs can incorporate all information (...) spread over the individuals without the individuals having to communicate their (possibly complex and hard-to-describe) private information; communicating prior and posterior beliefs su¢ ces. JEL classi…cation: D70, D71.. (shrink)
This article first describes a dilemma for liberalism: On the one hand restricting their own options is an important means for groups of people to shape their lives. On the other hand, group members are typically divided over whether or not to accept option-restricting solutions or policies. Should we restrict the options of all members of a group even though some consent and some do not? This dilemma is particularly relevant to public health policy, which typically target groups (...) of people with no possibility for individuals to opt out. The article then goes on to propose and discuss a series of aggregation rules for individual into group consent. Consideration of a number of scenarios shows that such rules cannot be formulated only in terms of fractions of consenters and non-consenters, but must incorporate their motives and how much they stand to win or lose. This raises further questions, including what is the appropriate impact of altruistic consenters and non-consenters, what should be the impact of costs and benefits and whether these should be understood as gross or net. All these issues are dealt with in a liberal, anti-paternalistic spirit, in order to explore whether group consent can contribute to the justification of option-restricting public health policy. (shrink)
We consider the Stag Hunt in terms of Maynard Smith’s famous Haystack model. In the Stag Hunt, contrary to the Prisoner’s Dilemma, there is a cooperative equilibrium besides the equilibrium where every player defects. This implies that in the Haystack model, where a population is partitioned into groups, groups playing the cooperative equilibrium tend to grow faster than those at the non-cooperative equilibrium. We determine under what conditions this leads to the takeover of the population by cooperators. Moreover, we compare (...) our results to the case of an unstructured population and to the case of the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Finally, we point to some implications our findings have for three distinct ideas: Ken Binmore’s group selection argument in favor of the evolution of efficient social contracts, Sewall Wright’s Shifting Balance theory, and the equilibrium selection problem of game theory. (shrink)
In this companion piece to 'On the Philosophy of Group Decision Methods I: The Non-Obviousness of Majority Rule', we take a closer look at some competitors of majority rule. This exploration supplements the conclusions of the other piece, as well as offers a further-reaching introduction to some of the challenges that this field currently poses to philosophers.
This paper examines the role of evidential considerations in relation to pragmatic concerns in statements of group belief, focusing on scientific collaborations that are constituted in part by the aim of evaluating the evidence for scientific claims (evidential collaborations). Drawing upon a case study in high energy particle physics, I seek to show how pragmatic factors that enter into the decision to issue a group statement contribute positively to the epistemic functioning of such groups, contrary to the implications (...) of much of the existing discussion of group belief. I conclude by suggesting that applying social epistemological considerations to scientific collaborations could be practically beneficial, but only if an appropriately broad range of epistemic values is considered. (shrink)
While corporate failures, such as Enron and WorldCom, have focused attention on issues of business ethics, corporate governance and risk management, there is nothing intrinsically new in the reasons behind their collapse. Neither is there anything fresh in the media's rush to identify a scapegoat. An examination of the financial collapse of Mirror Group Newspapers and Barings Bank, demonstrates failures within both these companies' corporate cultures and management systems, which allowed, if not encouraged, unethical behaviour by key individuals. It (...) is argued that a combination of legislation, regulation, effective risk management and appropriate sanctions are needed, if such unethical behaviour, and resulting corporate failure, is to be prevented in future. (shrink)
The six platinum group metals (pgms: ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium and platinum) posed a number of problems for 19th-century chemists, including Mendeleev, for their Periodic classification. This account discusses the discovery of the pgms, the determination of their atomic weights and their classification.
Much apprehension has been expressed by philosophers about the method of renormalisation in quantum field theory, as it apparently requires illegitimate procedure of infinite cancellation. This has lead to various speculations, in particular in Teller (1989). We examine Teller's discussion of perturbative renormalisation of quantum fields, and show why it is inadequate. To really approach the matter one needs to understand the ideas and results of the renormalisation group, so we give a simple but comprehensive account of this topic. (...) With this in hand, we explain how renormalisation can and should be understood. One thing that is revealed is that apparently very successful theories such as quantum electro-dynamics cannot be universally true; resolving the tension between success and falsity leads to a picture in which any theory may be viewed as irreducibly phenomenological. We explain how, and argue that the support for this view is tenuous at best. (shrink)
The increasingly pluralistic character of modern societies has led to questions, not only about the proper use of ethnic-group terms, but also about the correct semantic analysis of them. Here I argue that ethnic-group terms are analogous to other linguistic expressions whose extension is fixed in the way suggested by a causal theory of reference. My view accommodates precisely those scenarios of communication involving ethnic-group terms that will be seen puzzling to Fregeans. At the same time, it (...) undermines the plausibility of skepticism about those terms. (shrink)
Group selection is increasingly being viewed as an important force in human evolution. This paper examines the views of R.D. Alexander, one of the most influential thinkers about human behavior from an evolutionary perspective, on the subject of group selection. Alexander's general conception of evolution is based on the gene-centered approach of G.C. Williams, but he has also emphasized a potential role for group selection in the evolution of individual genomes and in human evolution. Alexander's views are (...) internally inconsistent and underestimate the importance of group selection. Specific themes that Alexander has developed in his account of human evolution are important but are best understood within the framework of multilevel selection theory. From this perspective, Alexander's views on moral systems are not the radical departure from conventional views that he claims, but remain radical in another way more compatible with conventional views. (shrink)
This article examines whether a group of Brazilian Kardecist-Spiritists are using the symbols of medicine and science to gain respectability and to better promote their beliefs and ritual activities or whether they are using the view of the world proposed by their founder to forge a new paradigm to replace science, as we know it. Their therapeutic practices, which range from the performance of surgeries without anesthesia and antisepsis to "teleporting" the astral bodies of patients to the spirit world (...) where they are treated for illnesses acquired during previous lifetimes are described and analyzed in terms of their worldview which postulates reincarnation. Data indicating positive results from a sample of patients treated for illnesses they claim to be caused by experiences in previous lives are presented. (shrink)
How does other people’s opinion affect judgments of norm transgressions? In our study, we used a modification of the famous Asch paradigm (1951, 1955) to examine conformity in the moral domain. The question we addressed was how peer group opinion alters normative judgments of scenarios involving violations of moral, social, and decency norms. The results indicate that even moral norms are subject to conformity, especially in situations with a high degree of social presence. Interestingly, the degree of conformity can (...) distinguish between different types of norms. (shrink)
The Story of the Hats is a puzzle in social epistemology. It describes a situation in which a group of rational agents with common priors and common goals seems vulnerable to a Dutch book if they are exposed to different information and make decisions independently. Situations in which this happens involve violations of what might be called the Group-Reflection Principle. As it turns out, the Dutch book is flawed. It is based on the betting interpretation of the subjective (...) probabilities, but ignores the fact that this interpretation disregards strategic considerations that might influence betting behavior. A lesson to be learned concerns the interpretation of probabilities in terms of fair bets and, more generally, the role of strategic considerations in epistemic contexts. Another lesson concerns Group-Reflection, which in its unrestricted form is highly counter-intuitive. We consider how this principle of social epistemology should be re-formulated so as to make it tenable. (shrink)
Scientific knowledge has not stabilized in the current, early, phase of research and development of nanotechnologies creating a challenge to ‘upstream’ public engagement. Nevertheless, the idea that the public should be involved in deliberative discussions and assessments of emerging technologies at this early stage is widely shared among governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders. Many forums for public debate including focus groups, and citizen juries, have thus been organized to explore public opinions on nanotechnologies in a variety of countries over the past (...) few years. In Switzerland the Centre for Technology Assessment (TA-Swiss) organized such a citizen panel in fall 2006. Drawing from an ethnographic study of this panel called ‘publifocus on nanotechnologies, health, and environment’ this paper looks at the ways members of a stakeholder group deal with the epistemic uncertainty in their deliberation of nanotechnologies. By exploring the statements of the participants in the stakeholder discussion group, this paper reconstructs the narratives that constitute the epistemic foundations of the participants’ evaluations of nanotechnologies. (shrink)
The notion of a community of inquiry has been treated by many of its proponents as being an exemplar of democracy in action. We argue that the assumptions underlying this view present some practical and theoretical difficulties, particularly in relation to distribution of power among the members of a community of inquiry. We identify two presuppositions in relation to distribution of power that require attention in developing an educational model that is committed to deliberative democracy: (1) openness to inquiry and (...) readiness to reason, and (2) mutual respect of students and teachers towards one another. Our contention is that these presuppositions, presented as preconditions necessary to the creation of a community of inquiry, are not without ideological commitments and dependent upon the ability of participants to share power. Using group dynamic theories and the ideas of Hannah Arendt, we argue that behaviours commonly interpreted as obstacles to dialogue or reflective inquiry could provide opportunities for growth. (shrink)
Justifications of group-differentiated rights commonly overlook a crucial practical consideration: if rights are to be allocated on the basis of group membership, how should we determine which individuals belong to which group? Assuming that social identities are fixed and transparent runs the risk of creating further injustices, whilst acknowledging that social groups are porous and heterogeneous runs the risk of rendering group-differentiated rights impracticable. In this paper, I develop a schema for determining group membership which (...) avoids both horns of this dilemma. (shrink)
In this article I summarize Friedrich Hayek’s cultural group selection theory and describe the evidence gathered by current cultural group selection theorists within the behavioral and social sciences supporting Hayek’s main assertions. I conclude with a few comments on Hayek and libertarianism.
The evolution of the myxoma virus in Australia has been presented for many years as a test case for the hypothesis that group selection can function effectively `in the wild.' This paper critically examines the myxoma case, and argues that its failure as a test case for this hypothesis has broader implications for debates over the levels of selection.
This article is primarily a study of the group selection controversy, with special emphasis on the period from 1962 to the present, and the rise of inclusive fitness theory. Interest is focused on the relations between individual fitness theory and other fitness theories and on the methodological imperatives used in the controversy over the status of these theories. An appendix formalizes the notion of "assertive part" which is used in the informal discussion of the methodological imperatives elicited from the (...) controversy. (shrink)
This paper traces the origins of Eugene Wigner's pioneering application of group theory to quantum physics to his early work in chemistry and crystallography. In the early 1920s, crystallography was the only discipline in which symmetry groups were routinely used. Wigner's early training in chemistry, and his work in crystallography with Herman Mark and Karl Weissenberg at the Kaiser Wilhelm institute for fiber research in Berlin exposed him to conceptual tools which were absent from the pedagogy available to physicists (...) for many years to come. This both enabled and pushed him to apply the group theoretic approach to quantum physics. It took many years for the approach first introduced by Wigner in the 1920s – and whose reception by the physicists was initially problematical – to assume the pivotal place it now holds in physical theory and education. This is but one example that attests to the historic contribution made by the periphery in initiating new types of thought-perspectives and scientific careers. (shrink)
Previous studies have consistently argued that employees’ perception of their leaders as charismatic will positively influence their willingness to commit themselves to the ethical and philanthropic objectives of the organization. However, the empirical relationship between charisma and employee work effort is only modestly explored. This study hypothesizes that in decentralized, professional, and normative organizations characterized by demanding and philanthropic tasks, group belonging, in its capacity to socially and professionally support employees, is better suited to explain employee work effort than (...) leadership charisma. Hierarchical regression analyses based on data from a bishopric supported this assumption. Practical and theoretical consequences are discussed. (shrink)
While a large social-choice-theoretic literature discusses the aggregation of individual judgments into collective ones, there is relatively little formal work on the transformation of individual judgments in group deliberation. I develop a model of judgment transformation and prove a baseline impossibility result: Any judgment transformation function satisfying some initially plausible condition is the identity function, under which no opinion change occurs. I identify escape routes from this impossibility result and argue that successful group deliberation must be ‘holistic’: individuals (...) cannot generally revise their judgments on a proposition based on judgments on that proposition alone but must take other propositions into account too. I discuss the significance of these findings for democratic theory. (shrink)
The key problem in the controversy over group selection is that of defining a criterion of group selection that identifies a distinct causal process that is irreducible to the causal process of individual selection. We aim to clarify this problem and to formulate an adequate model of irreducible group selection. We distinguish two types of group selection models, labeling them type I and type II models. Type I models are invoked to explain differences among groups in (...) their respective rates of production of contained individuals. Type II models are invoked to explain differences among groups in their respective rates of production of distinct new groups. Taking Elliott Sober's model as an exemplar, we argue that although type I models have some biological importance--they force biologists to consider the role of group properties in influencing the fitness of organisms--they fail to identify a distinct group-level causal selection process. Type II models if properly framed, however, do identify a group-level causal selection process that is not reducible to individual selection. We propose such a type II model and apply it to some of the major candidates for group selection. (shrink)
argues that correlated interactions are necessary for group selection. His argument turns on a particular procedure for measuring the strength of selection, and employs a restricted conception of correlated interaction. It is here shown that the procedure in question is unreliable, and that while related procedures are reliable in special contexts, they do not require correlated interactions for group selection to occur. It is also shown that none of these procedures, all of which employ partial regression methods, are (...) reliable when correlated interactions of a specific kind arise, and it is argued that such correlated interactions will likely be ubiquitous in natural populations. Introduction Process and Product Fitness, Mean Fitness, and Phenotypic Change Correlated Interactions Causation Implications CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Who blows the whistle — a loner or a well-liked team player? Which of them is more likely to lead a successful opposition to perceived organizational wrongdoing? The potential influence of co-worker pressures to conform on whistle-blowing activity or the likely effects of whistle-blowing on the group have not been addressed. This paper presents a preliminary model of whistle-blowing as an act of nonconformity. One implication is that the success of an opposition will depend on the characteristics of the (...) whistle-blower and how the complaint is pursued. Specific hypotheses and general suggestions for future research and practice are offered. (shrink)
There is a strong formal analogy between proposition-wise supervenience of collective doxastic rationality on individual doxasticrationality and supervenience of social choice functions on individual choice functions. In light of this analogy, the basis for List and Pettit’s impossibility theorems can fruitfully be compared with the basis for Arrow’s. This helps to explain why List and Pettit can derive no impossibility theorem for set-wise supervenience. However, there are empirical reasons for doubting that set-wise supervenience of collective doxastic rationality on individual doxastic (...) rationality is necessary; a systematic feedback relationship between the former and some individual behavioral dispositions is probably sufficient to dissolve mysteries about group agency. Group doxastic rationality need not supervene on individual rationality. (shrink)
Micro Credit (MC) programs lend money to poor borrowers using innovative mechanisms such as group lending under joint liability while successfully accounting for the presence of asymmetric information in underdeveloped financial markets. MC programs have achieved what the conventional financial institutions and the government have not been able to: lend to the poor, impressive loan recuperation, and a positive impact in poverty reduction. This article analyzes the performance of ALSOL, an MC program in Chiapas, México, for 2151 participants in (...) urban and rural areas for the time period between July 2000 and July 2001. While loan recuperation is high (95%), administrative costs also remain high. Socially responsible lenders and donors play a key role in providing continuous funding to MC programs and assisting in reducing the level of poverty. (shrink)