About this topic
Summary Collective Action covers the examination of intentionality and agency in a social context. In particular the investigation of what it means to act together.
Key works Key works in this area include Bratman 2009 and Gilbert 1990
Introductions Roth 2011
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  1. Empathy and Anastomosis: On the Empathetic Interpretation of Universal Archetypes.Jeffery Childers - manuscript
    This work deconstructs the subjective experience, and identifies the role of empathy in experience as being capable of reconciling the mob mindedness that accompanies ideologies. The essence of the paper is to discuss and elucidate the societal impact of empathetic being, and the correlation with such states of being as an avenue for learning which identifies and interprets reality rather than realizing it. The idea is that by empathetically interpreting our experience and empathetically informing our modes of expression, one becomes (...)
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  2. On Individual and Shared Obligations: In Defense of the Activist’s Perspective.Gunnar Björnsson - forthcoming - In Mark Budolfson, Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), Philosophy and Climate Change. Oxford University Press.
    We naturally attribute obligations to groups, and take such obligations to have consequences for the obligations of group members. The threat posed by anthropogenic climate change provides an urgent case. It seems that we, together, have an obligation to prevent climate catastrophe, and that we, as individuals, have an obligation to contribute. However, understood strictly, attributions of obligations to groups might seem illegitimate. On the one hand, the groups in question—the people alive today, say—are rarely fully-fledged moral agents, making it (...)
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  3. Hybrid Collective Intentionality.Thomas Brouwer, Roberta Ferrario & Daniele Porello - forthcoming - Synthese:1-37.
    The theory of collective agency and intentionality is a flourishing field of research, and our understanding of these phenomena has arguably increased greatly in recent years. Extant theories, however, are still ill-equipped to explain certain aspects of collective intentionality. In this article we draw attention to two such underappreciated aspects: the failure of the intentional states of collectives to supervene on the intentional states of their members, and the role of non-human factors in collective agency and intentionality. We propose a (...)
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  4. An Object-Dependent Perspective on Joint Attention.John Campbell - forthcoming - In Axel Seemann (ed.), Joint Attention: New Developments in Philosophy, Psychology and Neuroscience. The MIT Press.
  5. Promises as Proposals in Joint Practical Deliberation.Brendan de Kenessey - forthcoming - Noûs.
    This paper argues that promises are proposals in joint practical deliberation, the activity of deciding together what to do. More precisely: to promise to ϕ is to propose (in a particular way) to decide together with your addressee(s) that you will ϕ. I defend this deliberative theory by showing that the activity of joint practical deliberation naturally gives rise to a speech act with exactly the same properties as promises. A certain kind of proposal to make a joint decision regarding (...)
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  6. Public Property, Collective Integrity, and Environmental Justice.Elisabeth Ellis - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy:1-7.
  7. Group Inquiry.Joshua Habgood-Coote - forthcoming - Erkenntnis.
    Group agents can act, they can have knowledge. How should we understand the species of collective action which aims at knowledge? In this paper, I present an account of group inquiry. This account faces two challenges: making sense of how large-scale distributed activities might be a kind of group action, and understanding the division of labour involved in group inquiry. In the first part of the paper, I argue that existing accounts of group action face problems dealing with large-scale group (...)
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  8. Cognising With Others in the We-Mode: A Defence of ‘First-Person Plural’ Social Cognition.Joe Higgins - forthcoming - Review of Philosophy and Psychology:1-22.
    The theory of we-mode cognition seeks to expand our understanding of the cognition involved in joint action, and therein claims to explain how we can have non-theoretical and non-simulative access to the minds of others. A basic tenet of this theory is that each individual jointly intends to accomplish some outcome together, requiring the adoption of a “first-person plural perspective” that is neither strictly individualistic – in the sense that a we-mode state is enabled by the joint involvement of other (...)
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  9. Existence, Really? Tacit Disagreements About “Existence” in Disputes About Group Minds and Corporate Agents.Johannes Himmelreich - forthcoming - Synthese:1-15.
    A central dispute in social ontology concerns the existence of group minds and actions. I argue that some authors in this dispute rely on rival views of existence without sufficiently acknowledging this divergence. I proceed in three steps in arguing for this claim. First, I define the phenomenon as an implicit higher-order disagreement by drawing on an analysis of verbal disputes. Second, I distinguish two theories of existence—the theory-commitments view and the truthmaker view—in both their eliminativist and their constructivist variants. (...)
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  10. Inquiry Learning Activity Demonstration Summary Sheet.Jean Hussey-Stone & Kim Brown - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
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  11. Collective Self-Defense Under a Revised Un Charter.Walter Sg Kohn - forthcoming - Social Research.
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  12. An Introduction to Collective Intentionality: In Action, Thought, and Society.Kirk Ludwig & Marija Jankovic - forthcoming - New York: Routledge.
    This is an introduction to collective intentionality. It discusses collection action and intention, collective belief, distributed cognition, collective intentionality and language, conventions and status functions, institutions and social ontology, and collective responsibility.
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  13. Propositions for Collective Action – Towards an Ethico-Aesthetic Politics.Erin Manning - forthcoming - Theory and Event 15 (3).
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  14. Proprietary Reasons and Joint Action.Abraham Roth - forthcoming - In A. Fiebich (ed.), Minimal Cooperation and Shared Agency.
    Some of the reasons one acts on in joint action are shared with fellow participants. But others are proprietary: reasons of one’s own that have no direct practical significance for other participants. The compatibility of joint action with proprietary reasons serves to distinguish the former from other forms of collective agency; moreover, it is arguably a desirable feature of joint action. Advocates of “team reasoning” link the special collective intention individual participants have when acting together with a distinctive form of (...)
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  15. Directed Duty, Practical Intimacy, and Legal Wronging.Abraham Sesshu Roth - forthcoming - In Teresa Marques & Chiara Valentini (eds.), Collective Action, Philosophy, and the Law.
    What is it for a duty or obligation to be directed? Thinking about paradigmatic cases such as the obligations generated by promises will take us only so far in answering this question. This paper starts by surveying several approaches for understanding directed duties, as well as the challenges they face. It turns out that shared agency features something similar to the directedness of duties. This suggests an account of directedness in terms of shared agency – specifically, in terms of the (...)
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  16. Cooperation: With or Without Shared Intentions.Jules Salomone-Sehr - forthcoming - Ethics.
    In this paper, I refute an orthodoxy of shared agency theory, namely the view that shared intentions to φ are necessary and sufficient for φ to count as an instance of cooperation. I then take stock and articulate the everyday conception of cooperation that this refutation implies.
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  17. The Social World and the Theory of Social Action.Alfred Schutz - forthcoming - Social Research.
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  18. An Intrapersonal, Intertemporal Solution to an Interpersonal Dilemma.Valerie Soon - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-18.
    It is commonly accepted that what we ought to do collectively does not imply anything about what each of us ought to do individually. According to this line of reasoning, if cooperating will make no difference to an outcome, then you are not morally required to do it. And if cooperating will be personally costly to you as well, this is an even stronger reason to not do it. However, this reasoning results in a self-defeating, yet entirely predictable outcome. If (...)
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  19. Joint Action Without Robust Theory of Mind.Daniel Story - forthcoming - Synthese.
    Intuitively, even very young children can act jointly. For instance, a child and her parent can build a simple tower together. According to developmental psychologists, young children develop theory of mind by, among other things, participating in joint actions like this. Yet many leading philosophical accounts of joint action presuppose that participants have a robust theory of mind. In this article, I examine two philosophical accounts of joint action designed to circumvent this presupposition, and then I proffer my own novel (...)
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  20. Expressivity Results for Deontic Logics of Collective Agency.Allard Tamminga, Hein Duijf & Frederik Van De Putte - forthcoming - Synthese:1-21.
    We use a deontic logic of collective agency to study reducibility questions about collective agency and collective obligations. The logic that is at the basis of our study is a multi-modal logic in the tradition of *stit* logics of agency. Our full formal language has constants for collective and individual deontic admissibility, modalities for collective and individual agency, and modalities for collective and individual obligations. We classify its twenty-seven sublanguages in terms of their expressive power. This classification enables us to (...)
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  21. The Logic of Insurgent Collective Action: Defiance and Agency in Rural El Salvador.Elisabeth Wood - forthcoming - Theory and Society.
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  22. Global Obligations and the Human Right to Health.Bill Wringe - forthcoming - In Tracy Isaacs, Kendy Hess & Violetta Igneski (eds.), Collective Obligation: Ethics, Ontology and Applications.
    In this paper I attempt to show how an appeal to a particular kind of collective obligation - a collective obligation falling on an unstructured collective consisting of the world’s population as a whole – can be used to undermine recently influential objections to the idea that there is a human right to health which have been put forward by Gopal Sreenivasan and Onora O’Neill. -/- I take this result to be significant both for its own sake and because it (...)
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  23. Intentional Cooperation and Acting as Part of a Single Body.Olle Blomberg - 2021 - Mind and Language 36 (2):264-284.
    According to some accounts, an individual participates in joint intentional cooperative action by virtue of conceiving of him- or herself and other participants as if they were parts of a single agent or body that performs the action. I argue that this notional singularization move fails if they act as if they were parts of a single agent. It can succeed, however, if the participants act as if to bring about the goal of a properly functioning single body in action (...)
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  24. Getting Our Act Together: A Theory of Collective Moral Obligations.Anne Schwenkenbecher - 2021 - New York; London: Routledge.
    Together we can often achieve things that are impossible to do on our own. We can prevent something bad from happening or we can produce something good, even if none of us could do it by herself. But when are we morally required to do something of moral importance together with others? This book develops an original theory of collective moral obligations. These are obligations that individual moral agents hold jointly, but not as unified collective agents. To think of some (...)
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  25. Structural Injustice and Massively Shared Obligations.Anne Schwenkenbecher - 2021 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 38 (1):1-16.
    It is often argued that our obligations to address structural injustice are collective in character. But what exactly does it mean for ‘ordinary citizens’ to have collective obligations visà- vis large-scale injustice? In this paper, I propose to pay closer attention to the different kinds of collective action needed in addressing some of these structural injustices and the extent to which these are available to large, unorganised groups of people. I argue that large, dispersed and unorganised groups of people are (...)
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  26. Can a Wise Society Be Free? Gilbert, Group Knowledge and Democratic Theory.Joshua Anderson - 2020 - Ethics, Politics and Society 3:28-48.
    Recently, Margaret Gilbert has argued that it appears that the wisdom of a society impinges, greatly, on its freedom. In this article, I show that Gilbert’s “negative argument” fails to be convincing. On the other hand, there are important lessons, particularly for democratic theory, that can be by looking carefully, and critically, at her argument. This article will proceed as follows. First, I present Gilbert’s argument. Next, I criticize her understanding of freedom, and then, using arguments from Christopher McMahon, criticize (...)
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  27. Antibiotics and Animal Agriculture: The Need for Global Collective Action.Jonny Anomaly - 2020 - In Michael Selgelid (ed.), Ethics and Drug Resistance. New York: Springer. pp. 297-308.
  28. Shared Agency Without Shared Intention.Samuel Asarnow - 2020 - Philosophical Quarterly 70 (281):665-688.
    The leading reductive approaches to shared agency model that phenomenon in terms of complexes of individual intentions, understood as plan-laden commitments. Yet not all agents have such intentions, and non-planning agents such as small children and some non-human animals are clearly capable of sophisticated social interactions. But just how robust are their social capacities? Are non-planning agents capable of shared agency? Existing theories of shared agency have little to say about these important questions. I address this lacuna by developing a (...)
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  29. Group Duties Without Decision-Making Procedures.Gunnar Björnsson - 2020 - Journal of Social Ontology 6 (1):127-139.
    Stephanie Collins’ Group Duties offers interesting new arguments and brings together numerous interconnected issues that have hitherto been treated separately. My critical commentary focuses on two particularly original and central claims of the book: (1) Only groups that are united under a group-level decision-making procedure can bear duties. (2) Attributions of duties to other groups should be understood as attributions of “coordination duties” to each member of the group, duties to take steps responsive to the others with a view to (...)
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  30. What We Ought to Do: The Decisions and Duties of Non-Agential Groups.Olle Blomberg - 2020 - Journal of Social Ontology 6 (1):101-116.
    In ordinary discourse, a single duty is often attributed to a plurality of agents. In "Group Duties: Their Existence and Their Implications for Individuals", Stephanie Collins claims that such attributions involve a “category error”. I critically discuss Collins’ argument for this claim and argue that there is a substantive sense in which non-agential groups can have moral duties. A plurality of agents can have a single duty to bring about an outcome by virtue of a capacity of each to practically (...)
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  31. Collective Responsibility and Acting Together.Olle Blomberg & Frank Hindriks - 2020 - In Saba Bazargan-Forward & Deborah Tollefsen (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Collective Responsibility. Routledge.
    What is the moral significance of the contrast between acting together and strategic interaction? We argue that while collective moral responsibility is not uniquely tied to the former, the degree to which the participants in a shared intentional wrongdoing are blameworthy is normally higher than when agents bring about the same wrong as a result of strategic interaction. One argument for this claim focuses on the fact that shared intentions cause intended outcomes in a more robust manner than the intentions (...)
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  32. Seumas Miller on Knowing-How and Joint Abilities.Yuri Cath - 2020 - Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 9:14-21.
    A critical discussion of Seumas Miller's view on knowing-how and joint abilities.
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  33. Are My Temporal Parts Agents?Alexander Dietz - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (2):362-379.
    When we think about ethics, we normally focus on a particular sort of agent: the individual person. Some philosophers have argued that we should rethink the limits of what counts as an ethically relevant unit of agency by expanding outward, and claiming that groups of people can have normative reasons for action. In this paper, I explore whether we can go in the other direction. Are there sub‐personal beings who count as agents with their own reasons for action? In particular, (...)
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  34. The Masked Demos: Associational Anonymity and Democratic Practice.Jennifer Forestal & Menaka Philips - 2020 - Contemporary Political Theory 19 (4):573-595.
    The increased use of anonymous digital platforms raises substantive concerns about accountability in digital spaces. However, contemporary evaluations of anonymity focus too narrowly on its protective function: its ability to protect a diversity of speakers and ideas. Drawing on two examples of anonymous political engagements – Publius’s writing of the Federalist Papers and college students’ use of the social media platform Yik Yak – we develop an account of anonymity’s associational function: the processes by which people generate and negotiate collective (...)
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  35. 'Ought Implies Can' and the Possibility of Group Obligations.Isaac Hadfield - 2020 - British Undergraduate Philosophy Review 1 (1):40-49.
    Positing group level obligations has come under attack from concerns relating to agency as a necessary requirement for obligation bearing. Roughly stated, the worry is that since only agents can have moral obligations, and groups are not agents, groups cannot have moral obligations. The intuition behind this constraint is itself based on the ability requirement of 'ought implies can': in order for a group to have an obligation it must have the ability to perform an action, but only agents can (...)
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  36. Agent-Relative Consequentialism and Collective Self-Defeat.Matthew Hammerton - 2020 - Utilitas 32 (4):472-478.
    Andrew Forcehimes and Luke Semrau argue that agent-relative consequentialism is implausible because in some circumstances it classes an act as impermissible yet holds that the outcome of all agents performing that impermissible act is preferable. I argue that their problem is closely related to Derek Parfit's problem of ‘direct collective self-defeat’ and show how Parfit's plausible solution to his problem can be adapted to solve their problem.
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  37. Proxy Assertion.Kirk Ludwig - 2020 - In Sanford Goldberg (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Assertion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    In proxy assertion an individual or group asserts something through a spokesperson. The chapter explains proxy assertion as resting on the assignment of a status role to a person (that of spokesperson) whose utterances acts in virtue of that role have the status function of signaling that the principal is committed in a way analogous to an individual asserting that in his own voice. The chapter briefly explains how status functions and status roles are grounded and then treats, in turn, (...)
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  38. What Are Group Speech Acts?Kirk Ludwig - 2020 - Language & Communication 70:46-58.
    The paper provides a taxonomy of group speech acts whose main division is that between collective speech acts (singing Happy Birthday, agreeing to meet) and group proxy speech acts in which a group, such as a corporation, employs a proxy, such as a spokesperson, to convey its official position. The paper provides an analysis of group proxy speech acts using tools developed more generally for analyzing institutional agency, particularly the concepts of shared intention, proxy agent, status role, status function, convention (...)
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  39. What Is Minimally Cooperative Behavior?Kirk Ludwig - 2020 - In Anika Fiebich (ed.), Minimal Cooperation and Shared Agency. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. pp. 9-40.
    Cooperation admits of degrees. When factory workers stage a slowdown, they do not cease to cooperate with management in the production of goods altogether, but they are not fully cooperative either. Full cooperation implies that participants in a joint action are committed to rendering appropriate contributions as needed toward their joint end so as to bring it about, consistently with the type of action and the generally agreed upon constraints within which they work, as efficiently as they can, where their (...)
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  40. Doing Things Together: A Theory of Skillful Joint Action.Judith Martens - 2020 - De Gruyter.
    In everyday contexts we do numerous things together. Philosophers of collective intentionality have wondered how we can distinguish parallel cases from cases where we act together. Often their theories argue in favor of one characteristic, feature, or function, that differentiates the two. This feature then distinguishes parallel actions from joint action. The approach in this book is different. Three claims are developed: (1) There are several functions that help human agents coordinate and act together. (2) This entails that joint action (...)
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  41. Habits and Skills in the Domain of Joint Action.Judith H. Martens - 2020 - Topoi:1-13.
    Dichotomous thinking about mental phenomena is abundant in philosophy. One particularly tenacious dichotomy is between “automatic” and “controlled” processes. In this characterization automatic and unintelligent go hand in hand, as do non-automatic and intelligent. Accounts of skillful action have problematized this dichotomous conceptualization and moved towards a more nuanced understanding of human agency. This binary thinking is, however, still abundant in the philosophy of joint action. Habits and skills allow us agentic ways of guiding complex action routines that would otherwise (...)
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  42. The Epistemology of Group Duties: What We Know and What We Ought to Do.Anne Schwenkenbecher - 2020 - Journal of Social Ontology (1):91-100.
    In Group Duties, Stephanie Collins proposes a ‘tripartite’ social ontology of groups as obligation-bearers. Producing a unified theory of group obligations that reflects our messy social reality is challenging and this ‘three-sizes-fit-all’ approach promises clarity but does not always keep that promise. I suggest considering the epistemic level as primary in determining collective obligations, allowing for more fluidity than the proposed tripartite ontology of collectives, coalitions and combinations.
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  43. The Possibility of Collective Moral Obligations.Anne Schwenkenbecher - 2020 - In The Routledge Handbook on Collective Responsibility. New York: pp. 258-273.
    Our moral obligations can sometimes be collective in nature: They can jointly attach to two or more agents in that neither agent has that obligation on their own, but they – in some sense – share it or have it in common. In order for two or more agents to jointly hold an obligation to address some joint necessity problem they must have joint ability to address that problem. Joint ability is highly context-dependent and particularly sensitive to shared (or even (...)
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  44. URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE PREFERENCES OF TOWNSFOLK: AN EMPIRICAL SURVEY WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF SOCIO-ECOLOGICAL MODEL OF THE CITY.Vitalii Shymko, Daria Vystavkina & Ievgeniia Ivanova - 2020 - Technologies of Intellect Development 4 (2(27)).
    The article presents the results of an interdisciplinary (psychological, behavioral, sociological, urban) survey of residents of elite residential complexes of Odessa regarding theirs urban infrastructure preferences, as well as the degree of satisfaction with their place of residence. It was found that respondents are characterized by a high level of satisfaction with their place of residence. It was also revealed that the security criterion of the district is the main one for choosing a place of residence, which indicates the unmet (...)
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  45. The irreducibility of collective obligations.Allard Tamminga & Frank Hindriks - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (4):1085-1109.
    Individualists claim that collective obligations are reducible to the individual obligations of the collective’s members. Collectivists deny this. We set out to discover who is right by way of a deontic logic of collective action that models collective actions, abilities, obligations, and their interrelations. On the basis of our formal analysis, we argue that when assessing the obligations of an individual agent, we need to distinguish individual obligations from member obligations. If a collective has a collective obligation to bring about (...)
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  46. The Freedom(s) Within Collective Agency: Tuomela and Sartre.Basil Vassilicos - 2020 - Bulletin D’Analyse Phénoménologique 2 (XVI):112-137.
    In this paper, the goal is to investigate the nature of freedom enjoyed by participants in collective agency. Specifically, we aim to address the fol- lowing questions: in what respects are participants in collective agency able to exercise freedom in some weaker or stronger sense? In what ways is such col- lective or common freedom distinct from the freedom ascribed to individuals? Might there be different sorts of freedoms involved in and tolerated by collec- tive agency, each of which has (...)
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  47. Modest Sociality, Minimal Cooperation and Natural Intersubjectivity.Michael Wilby - 2020 - In Minimal Cooperation and Shared Agency. Switzerland: pp. 127-148.
    What is the relation between small-scale collaborative plans and the execution of those plans within interactive contexts? I argue here that joint attention has a key role in explaining how shared plans and shared intentions are executed in interactive contexts. Within singular action, attention plays the functional role of enabling intentional action to be guided by a prior intention. Within interactive joint action, it is joint attention, I argue, that plays a similar functional role of enabling the agents to act (...)
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  48. Global obligations, collective capacities, and ‘ought implies can’.Bill Wringe - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (6):1523-1538.
    It is sometimes argued that non-agent collectives, including what one might call the ‘global collective’ consisting of the world’s population taken as a whole, cannot be the bearers of non-distributive moral obligations on pain of violating the principle that ‘ought implies can’. I argue that one prominent line of argument for this conclusion fails because it illicitly relies on a formulation of the ‘ought implies can’ principle which is inapt for contexts which allow for the possibility of non-distributive plural predications (...)
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  49. Collective Obligations and the Institutional Critique of Effective Altruism: A Reply to Alexander Dietz.Brian Berkey - 2019 - Utilitas 31 (3):326-333.
    In a recent article in this journal, Alexander Dietz argues that what I have called the ‘institutional critique of effective altruism’ is best understood as grounded in the claim that ‘EA relies on an overly individualistic approach to ethics, neglecting the importance of our collective obligations’. In this reply, I argue that Dietz’s view does not represent a plausible interpretation of the institutional critiques offered by others, primarily because, unlike Dietz, they appear to believe that their critiques provide reasons to (...)
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  50. Collective Obligations and Demandingness Complaints.Brian Berkey - 2019 - Moral Philosophy and Politics 6 (1):113-132.
    It has been suggested that understanding our obligations to address large-scale moral problems such as global poverty and the threat of severe climate change as fundamentally collective can allow us to insist that a great deal must be done about these problems while denying that there are very demanding obligations, applying to either individuals or collectives, to contribute to addressing them. I argue that this strategy for limiting demandingness fails because those who endorse collective obligations to address large-scale moral problems (...)
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