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 paper presents an account of social institutions on the basis of collective acceptance. Basically, collective acceptance by some members of a group involves the members’ collectively coming to hold and holding a relevant social attitude (a “we-attitude”), viz. either one in the intention family of concepts or one in the belief family. In standard cases the collective acceptance must be in the “we-mode”, viz. performed as a group member, and involve that it be meant for the group. The participants (...) must be collectively committed to what they have accepted. Social institutions are taken to be norm-governed social practices introducing a new social and conceptual status on the practices or some elements involved in those practices. This requires that some of the involved norms be constitutive norms as opposed to merely “accidentally” regulating ones. A classification of social institutions is presented. The account is broader in scope than is Searle’s. (shrink)
Professor James Coleman's book The Foundations of Social Theory is a great achievement: It presents a general but precisely formulated social theory based partly on long-term theoretical work and in part also on empirical work. I find myself largely in agreement with what Coleman says; accordingly, most of my critical points will be "external". The chief purpose of this paper is therefore not so much to criticize as as to attempt to say something which complements Coleman's theory and also serves (...) to show some of its limitations and restrictions. As a philosopher, I will concentrate on conceptually and philosophically interesting issues. Because there are a great many such issues in the book, I have chosen to concentrate on the topics of group action and group intention, topics I have myself worked on recently.1.. (shrink)
The philosophy of social science can still be regarded as a much less densely populated part of philosophy than most other fields in it. However, there are neighbours in which research is booming. Thus the philosophy of cognitive science (and philosophy of psychology, to use an older title) is very popular today and so is moral philosophy. Philip Pettit's new book (1993) is mainly on the philosophical problems of social science, but a substantial part of it is also devoted to (...) philosophy of psychology and to moral and social philosophy. This book is a most welcome treatise and a major accomplishment in its field. It is written in the best tradition of analytical philosophy. Pettit is very skillful both at making central conceptual distinctions and at devising and presenting imaginative arguments for his theses. The book will be of great interest not only for researchers and students in the fields of philosophy it deals with but also - because of its avoidance of technical jargon - to readers in other fields. Even if accessible to a larger audience, the book is yet not elementary nor too easy. It is very rich both in the topics covered and in the detailed arguments presented and defended. Pettit is not afraid of the hardest philosophical problems; accordingly his readers will be guided on a very interesting trip in a tough philosophical terrain. Finally, I should say that the book is also a very informative and reliable guide to recent developments in philosophy of social science and can well be recommended as a textbook. The present article will attempt to give a brief presentation of the main topics and ideas covered in the book. This will be accomplished in Section II (together with making some minor critical points). Sections III-VI are critical sections dealing with social holism (in Pettit's special sense), social regularities, as well as individualism, supervenience, and explanation. There some criticisms - both internal and external - against Pettit's views and arguments will be presented.. (shrink)
Page 1. Economics and Philosophy, 26 (2010) 291--320 Copyright C Cambridge University Press doi: 10.1017 / S0266267110000386 TWO KINDS OF WE-REASONING RAUL HAKLI, KAARLO MILLER AND RAIMO TUOMELA University of Helsinki ..
The Philosophy of Sociality examines the nature of sociality in its various forms, with special emphasis on collective intentionality. Raimo Tuomela begins with a distinction between the "we-perspective" and the "I-perspective." His study of strong collective intentionality -- as expressed by joint intentions, collective commitment, group belief, authority-based group action, and other phenomena -- outlines the circumstances under which an individual is required to think and act as a group member. By developing a systematic theory of sociality, Tuomela investigates such (...) topics as social institutions, cooperation, cultural evolution, and group responsibility. In The Philosophy of Sociality Tuomela asserts that "we-mode" collective intentionality is a conceptual prerequisite for understanding basic social notions. He finds several contexts in which we-mode intentionality is preferable to "pro-group" I-mode intentionality. He ultimately defends a naturalistic view of the social world by arguing that the we-mode is a genetic and cultural adaptaion. (shrink)
The central topic of this paper is to study joint intention to perform a joint action or to bring about a certain state. Here are some examples of such joint action: You and I share the plan to carry a heavy table jointly upstairs and realize this plan, we sing a duet together, we clean up our backyard together, and I cash a check by acting jointly with you, a bank teller, and finally we together elect a new president for (...) our country. In these cases the participants can be said to have a joint intention jointly or as a group to carry the table upstairs: the content of the intention involves our performing something together and the pronoun “we” refers to us, viz. you and me and the possible other participants considered together. When we jointly intend to carry the table, each of us can be said to.. (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).
This paper gives an up-to-date account of we-intentions and responds to some critics of the author’s earlier work on the topic in question. While the main lines of the new account are basically the same as before, the present account considerably adds to the earlier work. For one thing, it shows how we-intentions and joint intentions can arise in terms of the so-called Bulletin Board View of joint intention acquisition, which relies heavily on some underlying mutually accepted conceptual and situational (...) presuppositions but does not require agreement making or joint intention to form a joint intention. The model yields categorical, unconditional intentions to participate in the content of the we-intention and joint intention (viz. shared we-intention upon analysis). The content of a we-intention can be, but need not be a joint action. Thus a participant alone cannot settle and control the content of the intention. Instead the participants jointly settle the content and control the satisfaction of the intention. These and some other features distinguish we-intentions from “action intentions”, viz. intentions that an agent can alone settle and satisfy. The paper discusses weintentions (and other “aim-intentions”) from this perspective and it also defends the author’s earlier account against a charge of vicious circularity that has been directed against it. (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)
This paper gives an account of communicative action from the point of view of communication as a cooperative enterprise. It is argued that this is communication both on the basis of shared collective goals and without them. It is also argued that people can communicate without specifically formed illocutionary communicative intentions. The paper concludes by comparing the account given in the paper with Habermas’s theory of communicative action.
Many social properties and notions are collectively made. Two collectively created aspects of the social world have been emphasized in recent literature. The first is that of the performative character of many social things (entities, properties). The second is the reflexive nature of many social concepts. The present account adds to this list a third feature, the collective availability or “for-groupness” of collective social items. It is a precise account of social notions and social facts in terms of collective appearance. (...) The collective acceptance account has ontological implications in that it accepts mind-independent, group-dependent, and simply mind-dependent social facts. (shrink)
In this paper I will discuss a certain philosophical and conceptual program -- that I have called philosophy of social action writ large -- and also show in detail how parts of the program have been, and is currently being carried out. In current philosophical research the philosophy of social action can be understood in a broad sense to encompass such central research topics as action occurring in a social context (this includes multi-agent action); shared we-attitudes (such as we-intention, mutual (...) belief) and other social attitudes expressing collective intentionality and needed for the explication and explanation of social action; social macro-notions, such as actions performed by social groups and properties of social groups such as their goals and beliefs; social practices, and institutions (see e.g. Tuomela, 1995, 2000a, 2001). The theory of social action understood analogously in a broad sense would then involve not only philosophical but all other relevant theorizing about social action. Thus, in this sense, such fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as Distributed AI (DAI) and the theory of Multi-Agent Systems (MAS) fall within the scope of the theory of social action. DAI studies the social side of computer systems and includes various well-known areas ranging from human-computer interaction, computer-supported cooperative work, organizational processing, and distributed problem solving to the simulation of social systems. (shrink)
The paper discussed and analyzes collective and joint intentions of various strength. Thus there are subjectively shared collective intentions and intersubjectively shared collective intentions as well as collective intentions which are objectively and intersubjectively shared. The distinction between collective and private intentions is considered from several points of view. Especially, it is emphasized that collective intentions in the full sense are in the “we-mode”, whereas private intentions are in the “I-mode”. The paper also surveys recent discussion in the literature concerning (...) the nature of collective and joint intention and defends the author's accounts against criticisms. (shrink)
In this paper the problem of the relation between belief and acceptance is discussed in view of recent literature on the topic. Belief and acceptance are characterized in terms of a number of properties, which show both the similarities and the dissimilarities between these notions. In particular it is claimed - contrary to some recently expressed views - that acceptance need not be intentional action and that the differences between belief and acceptance do not boil down to the simple view (...) that acceptance, contrary to belief, is based on the agent's direct exercise of his will. Acceptance which is not based on intentional action is shown in the paper to be especially closely related to belief, especially to linguistic belief. Thus if a person is in a non-intentional-ly acquired and held state of acceptance that something p, he also believes that p. Another general difference is that acceptance is language-dependent while there can be non-linguistic belief. Collective beliefs and acceptances are also briefly discussed in the paper Among other things, it is noted that the notion of wide as contrasted with truth-oriented, narrow acceptance is central in the collective case. (shrink)
In current philosophical research the term 'philosophy of social action' can be used - and has been used - in a broad sense to encompass the following central research topics: 1) action occurring in a social context; this includes multi-agent action; 2) joint attitudes (or "we-attitudes" such as joint intention, mutual belief) and other social attitudes needed for the explication and explanation of social action; 3) social macro-notions, such as actions performed by social groups and properties of social groups such (...) as their goals and beliefs; 4) social norms and social institutions (see Tuomela, 1984, 1995). The theory of social action understood analogously in a broad sense would then involve not only philosophical but all other relevant theorizing about social action. Thus, in this sense, such fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as Distributed AI (DAI) and the theory of Multi-Agent Systems (MAS) fall within the scope of the theory of social action. DAI studies the social side of computer systems and includes various well-known areas ranging from Human Computer Interaction, Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, Organizational Processing, Distributed Problem Solving to Simulation of Social Systems and Organizations. Even if I am a philosopher with low artificial intelligence I will below try to say something about what the scope of DAI should be taken to be on conceptual and philosophical grounds. (In the later sections of the paper the central notion of joint intention will be the main topic - in order to illustrate how philosophers and DAI-researchers approach this issue.) Let us now consider the relationship between philosophy - especially philosophy of social action - and DAI. Both are concerned with social matters and in this sense seem to have a connection to social science proper. What kinds of questions should these areas of study be concerned with? In principle, ordinary social science should study all aspects of social life (in various societies and cultures), try to describe it and create general theories to explain it. (shrink)
The paper argues that there are two main kinds of joint action, direct joint bringing about (or performing) something (expressed in terms of a DO-operator) and jointly seeing to it that something is the case (expressed in terms of a Stit-operator). The former kind of joint action contains conjunctive, disjunctive and sequential action and its central subkinds. While joint seeing to it that something is the case is argued to be necessarily intentional, direct joint performance can also be nonintentional. Actions (...) performed by social groups are analyzed in terms of the notions of joint action (basically DO and Stit).A precise semantical analysis of the aforementioned kinds of joint action is given in terms of time-trees. With each participant a tree is connected, and the trees are joined defining joint possible worlds in terms of state-expressing nodes from the trees. Sentences containing DO and Stit are semantically evaluated with respect to such joint possible worlds. Intentional joint actions are characterized in terms of the notion of we-intention (joint intention), characterized formally by means of a special operator. (shrink)
This book develops a systematic philosophical theory of social action and group phenomena, in the process presenting detailed analyses of such central social notions as 'we-attitude' (especially 'we-intention' and mutual belief, social norm, joint action, and - most important - group goal, group belief, and group action). Though this is a philosophical work, it presents a unified conceptual framework that may be useful to social scientists, especially social psychologists, as well as philosophers. The book puts forward and defends a number (...) of systematic philosophical theses, resulting in not only a theory of social action but, more broadly, a philosophical theory of society, or at least those aspects of society with which social psychology is supposed to deal (individuals in groups, groups, joint action, and the like). (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)
1. One of the main aims of this paper is to study the possibilities for free-riding type of behavior in various kinds of many-person interaction situations. In particular it will be of interest to see what kinds of game-theoretic structures, defined in terms of the participants' outcome-preferences, can be involved in cases of free-riding. I shall also be interested in the related problem or dilemma of collective action in a somewhat broader sense. By the dilemma of collective action I mean, (...) generally speaking, the conflict between individual and collective rationality and the conflict between corresponding actions, in the sense it has been discussed in recent literature. Typically (although not invariably) collective action problems and free-rider problems coexist. Let me start my discussion by considering what Elster (1985) has to say about the subject. First, the notion of collective action itself should be characterized. Elster defines it as follows (p. 137): "By collective action I mean the choice by all or most individuals of the course of action that, when chosen by all or most individuals, leads to the collectively best outcome." While this characterization is informative in the present context, I think that it is not appropriate as a general characterization. It may provide a sufficient condition, but it fails as a necessary condition. One reason for this is that there may not be a single collectively best outcome at all. Instead, I suggest we follow common sense and take collective action simply to be action by a collection or group of people, where these people (or at least many of them) act with the aim of achieving a common end or goal (this notion understood very broadly so as to include e.g. following norms, practices, and customs). We also require of a situation of collective action that the participants have several (or at least two) possible courses of action open to them. Elster's above definition of collective action goes in terms of the collectively best outcome or goal.. (shrink)
A person can intend to achieve his own personal aims and ends, but he can also intend to promote the goals of his groups or collectives. In many cases of collective action these two types of intention will coincide, but they need not, and when they clash, collective action dilemmas, like free-riderism, will emerge. In this paper we discuss and analyze a central kind of group-intentions termed we-intentions, and distinguish between absolute and conditional we-intentions. The analyses of the latter are (...) then applied to a study of two related social phenomena: the agent's standing in reserve and free-riding.It is our claim that when the agent is intentionally in reserve, this involves his having a specific conditional we-intention to participate in the group's action. On the other hand, if he intends to free-ride, he intends not to participate. We also discuss and analyze different types of free-rider intentions. A person can also have a more complex intention concerning the group's action: He can have a conditional personal intention to free-ride combined with a conditional reserve member's we-intention to participate in the group's action. This may indicate that his motives are confused or mixed, but in most cases it can be taken to express his uncertainty of the fulfillment of the relevant conditions of his actions. (shrink)
Summary The paper considers arguments for and against correction and elimination of the basic conceptual categories as well as theories of social science. It is argued that some correction of at least some basic social notions is called for. A great part of the paper consists in a conceptual investigation of such notion of correction in terms of different notions of corrective explanation.
This critical note concerns Harold Kincaid's "Reduction, Explanation and Empiricism" (this journal, December 1986). Kincaid criticizes methodological individualism on several grounds. The present note argues that Kincaid fails at least in his attempt to show that it is false that individualistic theory suffices to fully explain social phenomena. Kincaid's main reason for claiming that individualistic theory is insufficient is that it cannot adequately explain social kinds. The present note contends that an individualist can suitably reinterpret the social talk in question (...) and so succeed in explaining social phenomena. In some cases his explanatory factors will presumably be direct counterparts to the holist's explanatory social kinds, whereas in some other cases they may not be--arguably need not be. (shrink)