What is it to do something with another person? In the author's book On Social Facts and elsewhere, she has conjectured that a special type of commitment - joint commitment - lies at the root of acting together and many other central social phenomena. Here she surveys some data pertinent to this conjecture, including the assumption of those who act together that they have associated rights against and obligations towards each other. She explains what joint commitment is, how it relates (...) to the data noted, and argues that an appeal to joint commitment does not involve a pernicious form of holism. (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)
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.
Some psychologists argue that in general we self-ascribe characteristics according to others' perceived reactions to us. In illustration michael argyle cites a case involving the self-Ascription of popularity. But popularity is what I here call a 'reaction-Determined characteristic, That is, A characteristic such that certain others' reacting to someone in a certain way is logically sufficient for his having it. The general import of cases involving such characteristics needs careful examination and I argue that in fact argyle's case does not (...) support the general thesis in question. I conclude that 'ordinary language' analysis is important for the evaluation of psychological data. (shrink)
This paper criticises a line of argument adopted by peter winch, Karl popper, And others, To the effect that the course of human history cannot be predicted. On this view it is impossible to predict in a particularly detailed way certain events ('original acts') on which important social developments depend. We analyze the argument, Showing that one version fails: original acts are in principle predictable in the relevant way. A cogent version is presented; this requires a special definition for 'original (...) act'. But, We claim, Social developments do not depend on original acts so defined. We argue separately for the possibility of a person, Or a scientific community, Predicting his or its own original acts. (shrink)
Gilbert’s four modes of communication include the logical, the emotional, the visceral and the kisceral, which last has not received much attention at all. This mode covers the forms of argument that rely on intuition and undefended basal assumptions. These forms range from the scientific and mathematical to the religious and mystical. In this paper these forms will be examined, and suggestions made for ways in which intuitive frameworks can be compared and valued.
The Portraits of Care study used portraiture to investigate ideas about care and care giving at the intersection of art and medicine. The study employed mixed methods involving both qualitative and quantitative research techniques. All aspects of the study were approved by the Institutional Review Board. The study included 26 patient and 20 caregiver subjects. Patient subjects were drawn from across the lifespan and included healthy and ill patients. Caregiver subjects included professional and familial caregivers. All subjects gave their informed (...) consent for the study and the subsequent exhibition of artwork. The artist drew or painted 100 portraits during the 2-year study. A multi-disciplinary analysis team carried out the initial analysis of portraits and subject data. Findings from their qualitative analysis were used to develop a quantitative survey and qualitative journal tool that the public used to give feedback at the subsequent exhibition. Exhibition data confirmed the initial findings. Study results showed the introspection of subjects that revealed their sense of identity and psychological status. Patients appear as ‘whole people’, not fragmented by diagnosis. Caregivers' portraits reveal their commitment to care. There is also a sense of mutuality and fluidity in the background stories of subjects. Many patient subjects have been caregivers and, at times, caregivers are also patients. Public data emphasised the identity transformation of subjects, the centrality of the idea of mortality, the presence of hope despite adversity, and the importance of empathy and compassion in care. (shrink)
This essay focuses on what patriotism is, as opposed to the value of patriotism. It focuses further on the basic patriotic motive : one acts with this motive if one acts on behalf of one’s country as such. I first argue that pre-theoretically the basic patriotic motive is sufficient to make an act patriotic from a motivational point of view. In particular the agent need not ascribe virtues or achievements to his country nor need he feel towards it the emotions (...) characteristic of love. Why should one ever act on behalf of one’s country as such, if one does not particularly admire it or feel a special affection for it? In answer to this question I offer a further articulation of the basic patriotic motive, invoking a particular understanding of what it is to be the member of a political society. Building on this articulation I then consider how one might characterize a patriotic act, a patriotic person, and the relationship of patriotism and pride. (shrink)
This article explores the question: what is it for two or more people to intend to do something in the future? In a technical phrase, what is it for people to share an intention ? Extending and refining earlier work of the author’s, it argues for three criteria of adequacy for an account of shared intention (the disjunction, concurrence, and obligation criteria) and offers an account that satisfies them. According to this account, in technical terms explained in the paper, people (...) share an intention when and only when they are jointly committed to intend as a body to do such-and-such in the future. This account is compared and contrasted with the common approach that treats shared intention as a matter of personal intentions, with particular reference to the work of Michael Bratman. (shrink)
I argue that obligations of an important type inhere in what I call 'joint commitments'. I propose a joint commitment account of everyday agreements. This could explain why some philosophers believe that we know of the obligating nature of agreements a priori. I compare and contrast obligations of joint commitment with obligations in the relatively narrow sense recommended by H. L. A. Hart, a recommendation that has been influential. Some central contexts in which Hart takes there to be obligations in (...) his sense are contexts in which there are obligations of joint commitment. Nonetheless, different senses of 'obligation' appear to be at issue. (edited). (shrink)
Bigenderism maintains there are only two genders, which correspond with the two sexes, male and female. Basic bigenderism requires that legal documents and public institutions designate a single invariant gender (that is, sex). Strict bigenderism applies these categories in a social context that stigmatizes "imperfect" men and women who do not reach ideals set by the bigenderist schema. I discuss these concepts and their implications, present three models that successively weaken bigenderist assumptions, and argue for the most radical of the (...) three. (shrink)
This article will compare and contrast two very different accounts of convention: the game-theoretical account of Lewis in Convention, and the account initially proposed by Margaret Gilbert (the present author) in chapter six of On Social Facts, and further elaborated here. Gilbert’s account is not a variant of Lewis’s. It was arrived at in part as the result of a detailed critique of Lewis’s account in relation to a central everyday concept of a social convention. An account of convention need (...) not be judged by that standard. Perhaps it reveals the nature of an important phenomenon. Looked at in that light, these very different accounts are not incompatible. Indeed, neither should be ignored if one is seeking to understand the way in which human beings arrive at some degree of social order. (shrink)
Natural normativity describes the means whereby social and cultural controls are placed on argumentative behaviour. The three main components of this are Goals, Context, and Ethos, which combine to form a dynamic and situational framework. Natural normativity is explained in light of Pragma-dialectics, Informal Logic, and Rhetoric. Finally, the theory is applied to the Biro-Siegel challenge.
Margaret Gilbert offers an incisive new approach to a classic problem of political philosophy: when and why should I do what the laws of my country tell me to do? Beginning with carefully argued accounts of social groups in general and political societies in particular, the author argues that in central, standard senses of the relevant terms membership in a political society in and of itself obligates one to support that society's political institutions. The obligations in question are not moral (...) requirements derived from general moral principles, as is often supposed, but a matter of one's participation in a special kind of commitment: joint commitment. An agreement is sufficient but not necessary to generate such a commitment. Gilbert uses the phrase 'plural subject' to refer to all of those who are jointly committed in some way. She therefore labels the theory offered in this book the plural subject theory of political obligation. The author concentrates on the exposition of this theory, carefully explaining how and in what sense joint commitments obligate. She also explores a classic theory of political obligation --- actual contract theory --- according to which one is obligated to conform to the laws of one's country because one agreed to do so. She offers a new interpretation of this theory in light of a theory of plural subject theory of agreements. She argues that actual contract theory has more merit than has been thought, though the more general plural subject theory is to be preferred. She compares and contrasts plural subject theory with identification theory, relationship theory, and the theory of fair play. She brings it to bear on some classic situations of crisis, and, in the concluding chapter, suggests a number of avenues for related empirical and moral inquiry. Clearly and compellingly written, A Theory of Political Obligation will be essential reading for political philosophers and theorists. (shrink)
This article invokes the idea of a wise society, something that has received little attention from contemporary philosophers. It argues that, given plausible interpretations of the relevant terms, the wiser a society is, the less free it is. Even if one prefers a different account of a wise society, the argument in question is significant, for on this account a wise society possesses features that would seem to be desirable whatever their relationship to wisdom in particular: it makes many true (...) value judgments. What is it for a society to make a true value judgment? An account is offered, and it is argued that all else being equal, a society that increases its stock of true value judgments so understood becomes less free. A number of questions that this argument may prompt are discussed. (shrink)
Two radically different, general accounts of human character traits - the "essentialist" and the "summary" accounts - are given critical consideration. The former account is characterized in terms of Saul Kripke's conception of metaphysical essence. Both accounts are discussed with reference to Jean-Paul Sartre's treatment of character traits. The essentialist account cannot withstand considerations relating to personal identity over time. The summary account is also rejected, as is a certain kind of dispositional account. An approach to at least some character (...) traits in terms of persisting aims, beliefs, and so on is recommended. (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)
L�herméneutique du soi proposée par Paul Ric�ur dans les années quatre vingt-dix fait une large place au récit autobiographique. Elle place ainsi au coeur de la constitution de l�identité personnelle la capacité de faire retour sur soi en termes narratifs. Abordée sous l�angle non seulement de la permanence d�un noyau substantiel � la mêmeté � mais également de celle impliquée dans l�acte de tenir parole � l�ipséité � l�identité est ici conçue comme étant narrative. Seul un sujet capable de se (...) raconter serait ainsi capable du maintien de soi dans la parole donnée. Or, confrontée à l�hypothèse de l�inconscient, cette conception narrative de l�identité fait problème : que ce soit au niveau anthropologique et métapsychologique d�une part, ou au niveau de la méthode et de la clinique psychanalytique d�autre part, le récit autobiographique ne saurait rendre compte de la dimension inconsciente de l�expérience. Elle ne peut en ce sens constituer un concept directeur dans le champ théorico-clinique ouvert par Freud. (shrink)
May social unity - the unity of a society or social group - be a matter of sharing values? Political philosophers disagree on this topic. Kymlicka answers: No. Devlin and Rawls answer: Yes. It is argued that given one common 'summative' account of sharing values a negative answer is correct. A positive answer is correct, however, given the plural subject account of sharing values. Given this account, those who share values are unified in a substantial way by their participation in (...) a joint commitment. Some consequences of such sharing of values for the liberty of the people involved are noted. (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.
This article offers a critique of Thomas Scanlon's well-known account of promissory obligation by reference to the rights of promisees. Scanlon's account invokes a moral principle, the "principle of fidelity". Now, corresponding to a promisor's obligation to perform is a promisee's right to performance. It is argued that one cannot account for this right in terms of Scanlon's principle. This is so in spite of a clause in the principle relating to the promisee's "consent", which might have been thought to (...) do the trick. Most likely this argument can be applied to all "moral principle" accounts of promissory obligation. An alternative both to these and to "social practice" accounts is needed. (shrink)
Over the past 60 years there have been tremendous advances made in Argumentation Theory. One crucial advance has been the move from the investigation of static arguments to a concern with dialogic interactions in concrete contexts. This focus has entailed a slow shift toward involving both non-logical and non-discursive elements in the analysis of an argument. I argue that the traditional attitude Informal Logic has displayed toward emotion can be and ought be moderated. In particular, I examine the role of (...) emotion in everyday argumentation, and how Informal Logic can encompass it alongside the more traditional logical mode of communication. (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)
Words, just because they are words, are not inherently clear. The message they contain becomes clear to those who speak the language and are familiar with the issues and contexts. If the message lacks linguistic clarity the recipient of the message will typically make a query that will bring forth further information intended to clarify. The result might be more words, but it might also involve pointing or drawing, or words that utilize other modes such as references to context, history, (...) and so on. If the ambiguity derives from an inconsistency between, say, words and behaviour, one may look to either mode for clarity. Communication, we must accept, actually occurs in messages, and our ability to transmit information may be limited by any number of factors. When we focus entirely on discursive aspects of communication we limit both the ways in which we receive and ways in which we transmit information. The logocentric fallacy is committed when language, especially in it's most logical guise, is seen to be the only form of rational communication. (shrink)
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)
Numerous social and political theorists have referred to social groups or societies as “unities.” What makes a unity of a social group? I address this question with special reference to the theory of social groups proposed in my books On Social Facts and Living Together: Rationality, Sociality and Obligation. I argue that social groups of a central kind require an underlying “joint commitment.” I explain what I mean by a “joint commitment” with care. If joint commitments in my sense underlie (...) them, what kind of unity does this give social groups? In what sense or senses is it objective? (shrink)
During human-human interaction, emotion plays a vital role in structuring dialogue. Emotional content drives features such as topic shift, lexicalisation change and timing; it affects the delicate balance between goals related to the task at hand and those of social interaction; and it represents one type of feedback on the effect that utterances are having. These various facets are so central to most real-world interaction, that it is reasonable to suppose that emotion should also play an important role in human-computer (...) interaction. To that end, techniques for detecting, modelling, and responding appropriately to emotion are explored, and an architecture for bringing these techniques together into a coherent system is presented. (shrink)
What is a social rule? This paper first notes three important problems for H.L.A. Hart's famous answer in the Concept of Law. An alternative account that avoids the problems is then sketched. It is less individualistic than Hart's and related accounts. This alternative account can explain a phenomenon observed but downplayed by Hart: the parties to a social rule feel that they are in some sense 'bound' to conform to it.
Do people have obligations by virtue of the fact that a given country is their country? Actual contract theory says they do because they have agreed to act in certain ways. Contemporary philosophers standardly object in terms of the 'no agreement' objection and the 'not morally binding' objection. I argue that the 'not morally binding' objection is not conclusive. As for the 'no agreement' objection, though actual contract theory succumbs, a closely related plural subject theory of political obligation does not. (...) Plural subject theory may be the truth in actual contract theory and should be explored in its stead. (shrink)
This paper reviews some of the growing body of work in the analytic philosophy of social phenomena, with special reference to the question whether adequate accounts of particular social phenomena can be given in terms that are individualistic in a sense that is specified. The discussion focusses on accounts of what have come to be known as shared intention and action. There is also some consideration of accounts of social convention and collective belief. Particular attention is paid to the need (...) to explain the association of certain rights and obligations with the phenomena at issue. (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 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)