About this topic
Summary Intentionality is the power of the mind to be about, directed at, or to represent events, objects, properties and states of affairs.  The study of collective intentionality is the study of intentionality in the social context.  What is distinctive about the study of collective intentionality within the broader study of social interactions and structures is its focus on the conceptual and psychological features of joint or shared actions and attitudes, that is, actions and attitudes of (or apparent attributions of such to) groups or collectives, their relations to individual actions and attitudes, and their implications for the nature of social groups and their functioning.  It subsumes the study of collective action, responsibility, reasoning, thought, intention, emotion, phenomenology, decision-making, knowledge, trust, rationality, cooperation, competition, and related issues, as well as how these underpin social practices, organizations, conventions, institutions and social ontology.  Collective intentionality is a rapidly growing interdisciplinary area of research that draws on philosophy, logic, linguistics, cognitive science, sociology, computer science, psychology, economics, political science, legal theory, and cultural and evolutionary anthropology.
Key works Pioneering work by philosophers Raimo Tuomela (Raimo & Kaarlo 1988) and Margaret Gilbert (Gilbert 1990; Gilbert 1989) in the 1980s led to a rapid expansion of interest in joint action and intention in the 1990s, with important contributions by Michael Bratman (Bratman 1992; Bratman 1993) and John Searle (Searle 1990; Searle 1995; Searle 2009).  Tuomela, Gilbert and Searle offer non-reductive accounts of joint intention. Bratman, Miller (Miller 2001) and Ludwig (Ludwig 2007) offer reductive accounts. This has been attended by work on collective attitudes, reasoning, emotions, and so on more generally (Schmitt 2003).
Introductions Tollefsen 2004, Schweikard & Schmid 2012
Related categories

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  1. Scientific Competition: Theory and Policy, Conferences on New Political Economy.M. Albert, D. Schmidtchen & S. Voigt (eds.) - forthcoming - Mohr Siebeck.
  2. Reductive Views of Shared Intention.Facundo M. Alonso - 2017 - In Kirk Ludwig & Marija Jankovic (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Collective Intentionality. Routledge.
  3. Shared Intention, Reliance, and Interpersonal Obligations.Facundo M. Alonso - 2009 - Ethics 119 (3):444-475.
    Shared agency is of central importance in our lives in many ways. We enjoy engaging in certain joint activities with others. We also engage in joint activities to achieve complex goals. Current approaches propose that we understand shared agency in terms of the more basic phenomenon of shared intention. However, they have presented two antagonistic views about the nature of this phenomenon. Some have argued that shared intention should be understood as being primarily a structure of attitudes of individual participants (...)
  4. Power and Social Ontology.Åsa Andersson - 2007 - Lund: Bokbox Publications.
    This work presents an account of social power based on recent advances in social ontology. It is argued that a conceptual analysis of social power can be informed by developments in social ontology, but also that this field can be enriched, and in fact requires, an analysis of this central social concept. Social power is dependent on the existence of various kinds of social phenomena, such as institutions and social structures, in order to exist. Consequently, a precise analysis of these (...)
  5. Common Knowledge in Science.U. L. E. Andrej - 2002 - In Georg Meggle (ed.), Social Facts & Collective Intentionality. Dr. Hänsel-Hohenhausen. pp. 1--437.
  6. Intentionality and Possible Facts.Richard E. Aquila - 1971 - Noûs 5 (4):411-417.
  7. Anchoring the Institutional in the Material. Searle's Constitutive Rule Revisited.Alexandra Arapinis - forthcoming - European Journal of Philosophy.
  8. Corporate Moral Agency.Denis G. Arnold - 2006 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 30 (1):279–291.
    "The main conclusion of this essay is that it is plausible to conclude that corporations are capable of exhibiting intentionality, and as a result that they may be properly understood as moral agents" (p. 281).
  9. Review Essay: Chant, Sara Rachel, Frank Hindriks and Gerhard Preyer, Editors. From Individual to Collective Intentionality: New Essays. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. Pp. 240. [REVIEW]Caroline T. Arruda - 2016 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 46 (3):318–331.
    I summarize and evaluate the aims of the collection From Individual to Collective Intentionality: New Essays edited by Sara Rachel Chant, Frank Hindriks and Gerhard Preyer in the context of the on-going debate about collective intentionality and group agency. I then consider the individual essays contained therein, both from the perspective of how they advance the collection’s goals and the coherence of their individual arguments.
  10. What We Can Intend: Recognition and Collective Intentionality.Caroline T. Arruda - 2016 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 54 (1):5-26.
    The concept of recognition has played a role in two debates. In political philosophy, it is part of a communitarian response to liberal theories of distributive justice. It describes what it means to respect others’ right to self-determination. In ethics, Stephen Darwall argues that it comprises our judgment that we owe others moral consideration. I present a competing account of recognition on the grounds that most accounts answer the question of why others deserve recognition without answering the question of what (...)
  11. Constitutional Patriotism.Ingram Attracta - 1996 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 22 (6):1-18.
    In this paper, I want to look at some questions that arise when we try to abandon the conceptual and political framework of the nation-state. Is it impossible to conceive the unity of the state apart from the unity of the nation? Are shared political values insufficient to account for the existence of bounded states and special duties to one's own country? In the first section I will discuss the view that the idea of the modern state is incoherent and (...)
  12. We Did It Again: A Reply to Livingston.Sondra Bacharach & Deborah Tollefsen - 2011 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 69 (2):225-230.
  13. We Did It: From Mere Contributors to Coauthors.Sondra Bacharach & Deborah Tollefsen - 2010 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 68 (1):23-32.
  14. Joint Action of Large Groups.Ulrich Baltzer - 2002 - In Georg Meggle (ed.), Social Facts & Collective Intentionality. Dr. Hänsel-Hohenhausen.
  15. Collective Reasoning: A Critique of Hollis.N. Bardsley - unknown
  16. Reconsidering Gilbert’s Account of Norm-Guided Behaviour.Caroline M. Baumann - unknown
    Gilbert’s understanding of social norms is considered by some as a promising alternative proposal to standard rational choice accounts of norm-guided behaviour. In this paper, I evaluate her position on social norms. Focusing on the social rationality of individuals, Gilbert tries to explain norm-based behaviour in terms of the normativity of norms and grounds that normativity in the ways individuals are part of a social setting. More precisely, Gilbert argues that rational agents are motivated to act according to social norms (...)
  17. Epistemic Contracts.Peter Baumann - 2002 - In Georg Meggle (ed.), Social Facts & Collective Intentionality. Dr. Hänsel-Hohenhausen. pp. 1--19.
    The idea of a social contract has played a major role in modern political philosophy but not in modern epistemology, -- not even in more recent "social theories of knowledge". The idea of an epistemic contract, however, is very interesting and deserves more attention. In this paper, I discuss arguments to the effect that we cannot do without epistemic contracts. I come to the conclusion that these arguments are not convincing. If one wants to make use of contractarian arguments in (...)
  18. Wittgenstein Running: Neural Mechanisms of Collective Intentionality and We-Mode.Cristina Becchio & Cesare Bertone - 2004 - Consciousness and Cognition 13 (1):123-133.
    In this paper we discuss the problem of the neural conditions of shared attitudes and intentions: which neural mechanisms underlie “we-mode” processes or serve as precursors to such processes? Neurophysiological and neuropsychological evidence suggests that in different areas of the brain neural representations are shared by several individuals. This situation, on the one hand, creates a potential problem for correct attribution. On the other hand, it may provide the conditions for shared attitudes and intentions.
  19. Intentional Social Action and We-Intentions.Marvin Belzer - 1986 - Analyse & Kritik 8 (1):86-108.
    In his recent book Professor Tuomela presents a philosophical account of social action that relies upon the presuppositions of his purposive-causal theory of individual action. In particular, the concept of "we-intention" plays as central a role in the new theory as does that of intention in the earlier one. This article examines Tuomela's concept of "we-intention". Tuomela's introduction of the concept into social action theory is motivated by the assumption that theories of individual actions and social actions are analogous relative (...)
  20. Collective Intentionality and the Ontological Structure of Law.Carlos Bernal - 2014 - Rechtstheorie 45 (3):335-353.
  21. Hussearle's Representationalism and the “Hypothesis of the Background”.Christian Beyer - 1997 - Synthese 112 (3):323-352.
    John Searle''s hypothesis of the Background seems to conflict with his initial representationalism according to which each Intentional state contains a particular content that determines its conditions of satisfaction. In Section I of this essay I expose Searle''s initial theory of Intentionality and relate it to Edmund Husserl''s earlier phenomenology. In Section II I make it clear that Searle''s introduction of the notion of Network, though indispensable, does not, by itself, force us to modify that initial theory. However, a comparison (...)
  22. Simulation and the We-Mode. A Cognitive Account of Plural First Persons.Matteo Bianchin - 2015 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 45 (4-5):442-461.
    In this article, I argue that a capacity for mindreading conceived along the line of simulation theory provides the cognitive basis for forming we-centric representations of actions and goals. This explains the plural first personal stance displayed by we-intentions in terms of the underlying cognitive processes performed by individual minds, while preserving the idea that they cannot be analyzed in terms of individual intentional states. The implication for social ontology is that this makes sense of the plural subjectivity of joint (...)
  23. Collective Intentionality and Individual Action.Henk Bij de Weg - 2016 - My Website.
    People often do things together and form groups in order to get things done that they cannot do alone. In short they form a collectivity of some kind or a group, for short. But if we consider a group on the one hand and the persons that constitute the group on the other hand, how does it happen that these persons work together and finish a common task with a common goal? In the philosophy of action this problem is often (...)
  24. A New Foundation for the Social Sciences? Searle's Misreading of Durkheim.Jørn Bjerre - 2015 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 45 (1):53-82.
    The aim of John Searle’s philosophy of society is to provide a foundation for the social sciences. Arguing that the study of social reality needs to be based on a philosophy of language, Searle claims that sociology has little to offer since no sociologist ever took language seriously. Attacking Durkheim head-on, Searle not only claims that Durkheim’s project differs from his own but also that Durkheim’s sociology has serious shortcomings. Opposing Searle, this paper argues that Durkheim’s account of social reality (...)
  25. Corporate Crocodile Tears? On the Reactive Attitudes of Corporate Agents.Gunnar Björnsson & Kendy Hess - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (2):273–298.
    Recently, a number of people have argued that certain entities embodied by groups of agents themselves qualify as agents, with their own beliefs, desires, and intentions; even, some claim, as moral agents. However, others have independently argued that fully-fledged moral agency involves a capacity for reactive attitudes such as guilt and indignation, and these capacities might seem beyond the ken of “collective” or “ corporate ” agents. Individuals embodying such agents can of course be ashamed, proud, or indignant about what (...)
  26. We‐Experiences, Common Knowledge, and the Mode Approach to Collective Intentionality.Olle Blomberg - 2018 - Journal of Social Philosophy 49 (1):183-203.
    According to we-mode accounts of collective intentionality, an experience is a "we-experience"—that is, part of a jointly attentional episode—in virtue of the way or mode in which the content of the experience is given to the subject of experience. These accounts are supposed to explain how a we-experience can have the phenomenal character of being given to the subject "as ours" rather than merely "as my experience" (Zahavi 2015), and do so in a relatively conceptually and cognitively undemanding way. Galotti (...)
  27. Bennett W. Helm: Communities of Respect – Grounding Responsibility, Authority, and Dignity. [REVIEW]Olle Blomberg - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (2):441-443.
  28. Review of Kirk Ludwig, From Individual to Plural Agency, Collective Action: Volume 1. [REVIEW]Olle Blomberg - 2018 - Philosophical Quarterly 68 (272):626-628.
  29. Social Ontology and Collective Intentionality: Critical Essays on the Philosophy of Raimo Tuomela with His Responses, Edited by Gerhard Preyer and Georg Peter. [REVIEW]Olle Blomberg - 2017 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (2017.08.10).
  30. Shared Intention and the Doxastic Single End Condition.Olle Blomberg - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (2):351-372.
    What is required for several agents to intentionally \ together? I argue that each of them must believe or assume that their \-ing is a single end that each intends to contribute to. Various analogies between intentional singular action and intentional joint action show that this doxastic single end condition captures a feature at the very heart of the phenomenon of intentional joint action. For instance, just as several simple actions are only unified into a complex intentional singular activity if (...)
  31. Common Knowledge and Reductionism About Shared Agency.Olle Blomberg - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (2):315-326.
    Most reductionist accounts of intentional joint action include a condition that it must be common knowledge between participants that they have certain intentions and beliefs that cause and coordinate the joint action. However, this condition has typically simply been taken for granted rather than argued for. The condition is not necessary for ensuring that participants are jointly responsible for the action in which each participates, nor for ensuring that each treats the others as partners rather than as social tools. It (...)
  32. Shared Goals and Development.Olle Blomberg - 2015 - Philosophical Quarterly 65 (258):94-101.
    In 'Joint Action and Development', Stephen Butterfill argues that if several agents' actions are driven by what he calls a "shared goal"—a certain pattern of goal-relations and expectations—then these actions constitute a joint action. This kind of joint action is sufficiently cognitively undemanding for children to engage in, and therefore has the potential to play a part in fostering their understanding of other minds. Part of the functional role of shared goals is to enable agents to choose means that are (...)
  33. Macrocognition: A Theory of Distributed Minds and Collective Intentionality, by Bryce Huebner. [REVIEW]Olle Blomberg - 2014 - Metapsychology Online Reviews 18 (32).
  34. Socially Extended Intentions-in-Action.Olle Blomberg - 2011 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2 (2):335-353.
    According to a widely accepted constraint on the content of intentions, here called the exclusivity constraint, one cannot intend to perform another agent’s action, even if one might be able to intend that she performs it. For example, while one can intend that one’s guest leaves before midnight, one cannot intend to perform her act of leaving. However, Deborah Tollefsen’s (2005) account of joint activity requires participants to have intentions-in-action (in John Searle’s (1983) sense) that violate this constraint. I argue (...)
  35. An Account of Boeschian Cooperative Behaviour.Olle Blomberg - 1st ed. 2015 - In Catrin Misselhorn (ed.), Collective Agency and Cooperation in Natural and Artificial Systems. Springer Verlag.
    Philosophical accounts of joint action are often prefaced by the observation that there are two different senses in which several agents can intentionally perform an action Φ, such as go for a walk or capture the prey. The agents might intentionally Φ together, as a collective, or they might intentionally Φ in parallel, where Φ is distributively assigned to the agents, considered as a set of individuals. The accounts are supposed to characterise what is distinctive about activities in which several (...)
  36. The Ramifications of John Searle's Social Philosophy in Economics.Stephan Boehm - 2002 - Journal of Economic Methodology 9 (1):1-10.
    John Searle is well known for his contributions to the philosophy of language and to the philosophy of mind. In recent years he has extended his investigation to focus on the nature of social reality. In particular, he is intrigued by the creation of institutional facts, such as money, marriages and football matches. He postulates three primitive notions - 'collective intentionality', 'the assignment of function' and 'constitutive rules' - that are needed for the construction of institutional reality. The papers and (...)
  37. The Collectivity of Blaming.David Botting - 2016 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 30 (3):1-39.
    In this paper I want to argue that acts of blame are performed by collectives, and not by any collective but only by collectives that satisfy certain conditions – broadly those that, by collectivizing reason, can be held to be autonomous subjects to which it makes sense to attribute attitudes, including participant reactive attitudes such as resentment. The actors involved must also be related to the collective in particular ways in order to hold and be held responsible, but they need (...)
  38. Passive Consensus and Active Commitment in the Sciences.Alban Bouvier - 2010 - Episteme 7 (3):185-197.
    Gilbert (2000) examined the issue of collective intentionality in science. Her paper consisted of a conceptual analysis of the negative role of collective belief, consensus, and joint commitment in science, with a brief discussion of a case study investigated by Thagard (1998a, 1998b). I argue that Gilbert's concepts have to be refined to be empirically more relevant. Specifically, I distinguish between different kinds of joint commitments. I base my analysis on a close examination of Thagard's example, the discovery of Helicobacter (...)
  39. Scientific Collaboration and Collective Knowledge.T. Boyer, C. Mayo-Wilson & M. Weisberg (eds.) - forthcoming
  40. I Intend That We J.Michael Bratman - 1999 - In Faces of Intention: Selected Essays on Intention and Agency. Cambridge University Press. pp. 142–161.
  41. Developing an Understanding of Social Norms and Games : Emotional Engagement, Nonverbal Agreement, and Conversation.Ingar Brinck - 2014 - Theory and Psychology 24 (6):737–754.
    The first part of the article examines some recent studies on the early development of social norms that examine young children’s understanding of codified rule games. It is argued that the constitutive rules than define the games cannot be identified with social norms and therefore the studies provide limited evidence about socio-normative development. The second part reviews data on children’s play in natural settings that show that children do not understand norms as codified or rules of obligation, and that the (...)
  42. Co–Operation and Communication in Apes and Humans.Ingar Brinck & Peter Gärdenfors - 2003 - Mind and Language 18 (5):484–501.
    We trace the difference between the ways in which apes and humans co–operate to differences in communicative abilities, claiming that the pressure for future–directed co–operation was a major force behind the evolution of language. Competitive co–operation concerns goals that are present in the environment and have stable values. It relies on either signalling or joint attention. Future–directed co–operation concerns new goals that lack fixed values. It requires symbolic communication and context–independent representations of means and goals. We analyse these ways of (...)
  43. The Primacy of the We?Ingar Brinck, Vasudevi Reddy & Dan Zahavi (eds.) - 2016 - MIT Press.
    The question of the relation between the collective and the individual has had a long but patchy history within both philosophy and psychology. In this chapter we consider some arguments that could be adopted for the primacy of the we, and examine their conceptual and empirical implications. We argue that the we needs to be seen as a developing and dynamic identity, not as something that exists fully fledged from the start. The concept of we thus needs more nuanced and (...)
  44. Group Minds and Indeterminacy.D. Brooks - 1987 - South African Journal of Philosophy 6 (3):81-83.
  45. Group Minds.D. H. M. Brooks - 1986 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 64 (4):456-70.
  46. Planning for Collective Agency.Stephen Butterfill - 1st ed. 2015 - In Catrin Misselhorn (ed.), Collective Agency and Cooperation in Natural and Artificial Systems. Springer Verlag.
  47. Joint Action and Development.Stephen Andrew Butterfill - 2012 - Philosophical Quarterly 62 (246):23-47.
    Given the premise that joint action plays some role in explaining how humans come to understand minds, what could joint action be? Not what a leading account, Michael Bratman's, says it is. For on that account engaging in joint action involves sharing intentions and sharing intentions requires much of the understanding of minds whose development is supposed to be explained by appeal to joint action. This paper therefore offers an account of a different kind of joint action, an account compatible (...)
  48. Gerda Walther: On the Possibility of a Passive Sense of Community and the Inner Time Consciousness of Community.Antonio Calcagno - 2012 - Symposium 16 (2):89-105.
    If community is determined primarily in consciousness as a mental state of oneness, can community exist when there is no accompanying mental state or collective intentionality that makes us realise that we are one community? Walther would respond affirmatively, arguing that there is a deep psychological structure of habit that allows us to continue to experience ourselves as a community. The habit of community works on all levels of our person, including our bodies, psyches and spirits. It allows us to (...)
  49. Edith Stein’s Account of Communal Mind and its Limits: A Phenomenological Reading.Emanuele Caminada - 2015 - Human Studies 38 (4):549-566.
    Edith Stein claims that communal experiences are not reducible to the collection of individual experiences directed to the same object or upon the same content. Based on this intuition she gives a phenomenological description of the intentional structure that is proper to communal experiences regarding to their content, mode, and subject. While expanding on her attempts to reassess Husserl’s description of intentionality in an original social-ontological framework, I will stress her precious distinction between individual consciousness and communal stream of experience. (...)
  50. Collective Behavior of Animals: Swarming and Complex Patterns.J. A. Cañizo, J. Rosado & J. A. Carrillo - 2010 - Arbor 186 (746):1035-1049.
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