About this topic
Summary In the late 19th and early 20th Century, many psychologists posited group minds to explain the behavior of crowds and states, as well as the emergence of norms and societal facts. In a world populated by powerful labor unions, anarchist collectives, and radical workers’ parties, each resisting the unfair demands of powerful corporate agents, it seemed reasonable to assume that powerful psychological forces were at play in the production of collective behavior. But these theories of collective mentality relied on such implausibly weak forms of functionalism and such excessively inflationary ontologies that they shared little in common with the theories of mental states that emerged in other parts of philosophy and the cognitive sciences. In the current age of popular uprisings, failing political parties, and increasing corporate power, it come s as no surprise that philosophers, psychologists, and cognitive scientists have once again developed an interest in collective behavior. A number of popular books have attempted to resuscitate claims about collective intelligence and collective decision-making; and there is a rapidly growing philosophical literature on issues of collaboration, collective intentionality, collective decision-making, and collective responsibility. Research on collective mentality spans a wide range of philosophical topics that pertaining to group minds and collective mental states. Like the philosophy of mind more broadly, the investigation of collective mentality overlaps in rich and important ways with the philosophy of action and the philosophy of cognitive science.  On the one hand, there is a long tradition of analyzing the nature and possibility of collective intentionality (this research is mainly catalogued under the 'collective action', 'collective intentionality', and 'collective responsibility' subcategories). On the other hand, there is a more recent field of investigation, grounded in the scientific study of distributed cognition. This research has targeted everything from issues of cognitive architecture, to questions about the possibility of collective consciousness and the possibility of collective mental representation. 
Key works The literature on collective intentionality and collective responsibility is expansive, and key works for each of these areas should be found under those subheadings. From a perspective more heavily grounded in the philosophy of cognitive science, Clark 1994 argues that a Dennettian account of mentality can be extended to cover some types of groups, and Hutchins 1995 develops a framework for studying collective and distributed cognition based on Marr 1982Perron Tollefsen 2003 and Rovane 1997 develop an approach to collective personhood based on the reactive attitudes. Theiner et al 2010 and Tollefsen 2006 develop defenses of the group mind in line with the more familiar extended mind hypothesis (Clark & Chalmers 1998). Sutton et al 2010 builds an empirical and theoretical foundation for the study of collective remembering. Wilson 2001 offers a critical appraisal of the collective psychology tradition that emerged in the late 19th Century, and develops the Social Manifestation Hypothesis as an alternative to positing group minds. Rupert 2005 develops a compelling set of objections to models of collective mentality that depend on appeals to intentionality, while Rupert 2011 offers a critical appraisal of empirical work on collective mentality. Finally, Huebner 2014 offers a sustained defense of the group mind hypothesis that builds on these resources and responds to the most common objections to the hypothesis of collective mentality.
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  1. Human Life Is Group Life: Deliberative Democracy for Realists.Simone Chambers - 2018 - Critical Review 30 (1-2):36-48.
  2. Commitments in Groups and Commitments of Groups.Jacob D. Heim - 2015 - Phenomenology and Mind 1 (9):74-82.
    I argue that a group can have normative commitments, and that the commitment of a group is not merely a sum or aggregate of the commitments of individual group members. I begin with a set of simple cases which illustrate two structurally different ways that group commitments can go wrong. These two kinds of potential failure correspond to two different levels of commitment: one at the individual level, owed to the other group members, and one at the group level, which (...)
  3. Collective Attitudes and the Sense of Us: Feeling of Commitment and Limits of Plural Self-Awareness.Katja Crone - 2018 - Journal of Social Philosophy 49 (1):76-90.
  4. How Our Collective Representations Affect the Future of the European Union.Jan Berting - 2016 - International Journal of Social Quality 6 (1).
  5. Cultural Property and Collective Identity.Elizabeth Burns Coleman - 2006 - In Michael Higgins & Stefan Herbrechter (eds.), Returning (to) Communities: Theory, Culture and Political Practice of the Communal. Brill.
  6. Who Do We Think We Are?Lorraine Code - 2016 - Social Philosophy Today 32:29-44.
    This paper begins to develop a conception of ecological subjectivity and hence of social-political practice that can promote social justice across diverse populations and situations. It urges a provocative posing of the question “who do we think we are?” to direct attention to often unspoken assumptions about subjectivity and agency that tend silently to inform current philosophical inquiry. Drawing attention to the often-unconscious processes of “we-saying.” it aims to highlight and to prompt contestation of the silent assumptions that tend to (...)
  7. Shifting Imaginaries in the War on Terror.Werner Binder - 2016 - Social Imaginaries 2 (1):119-150.
    Th is analysis employs the concept of social imaginary to account for recent shifts in the imagination, discourse and practice of torture. It is motivated by a broader ambition to highlight the importance of the imaginary vis-a-vis the symbolic, which still dominates theoretical debates in cultural sociology. Culture does not only consist of codes and symbols, but also encompasses collectively shared imaginary significations. Only by paying tribute to the imaginary dimension of culture, we are able to understand how codes and (...)
  8. On the Social Benefits of Knowledge.Vihren Bouzov - 2016 - Analele Universitatii Din Craiova, Seria Filosofie 37 (1).
    Knowledge is one of the most important factors determining the development of global economy and overcoming the present existing inequalities. Humankind needs a fair distribution of the potential of knowledge because its big social problems and difficulties today are due to the existence of deep‐going differences in its possession and use. This paper is an attempt to analyze and present certain philosophical arguments and conceptions justifying cooperative decision‐making in the searching for fair distribution of the benefits of knowledge in the (...)
  9. Individualism, Collective Agency and the “Micro-Macro Relation”.Alban Bouvier - unknown
  10. The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind. Gustave Le BonThe Psychology of Peoples. Gustave Le Bon.H. Bosanquet - 1899 - International Journal of Ethics 9 (4):521-523.
  11. Where Are Collectives in Collectivism? Toward Conceptual Clarification of Individualism and Collectivism.Marilynn B. Brewer & Ya-Ru Chen - 2007 - Psychological Review 114 (1):133-151.
  12. Rhetoric and the Public Sphere.Simone Chambers - 2009 - Political Theory 37 (3):323-350.
    The pathologies of the democratic public sphere, first articulated by Plato in his attack on rhetoric, have pushed much of deliberative theory out of the mass public and into the study and design of small scale deliberative venues. The move away from the mass public can be seen in a growing split in deliberative theory between theories of democratic deliberation (on the ascendancy) which focus on discrete deliberative initiatives within democracies and theories of deliberative democracy (on the decline) that attempt (...)
  13. As We May Be Doing Philosophy: Informationalism – A New Regime for Philosophy?Daniel Apollon - 2008 - In Herbert Hrachovec & Alois Pichler (eds.), Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Information: Proceedings of the 30th International Ludwig Wittgenstein-Symposium in Kirchberg, 2007. De Gruyter. pp. 241-260.
  14. Two Modes of Collective Belief.Christopher Mcmahon - 2003 - ProtoSociology 18:347-362.
    Margaret Gilbert has defended the view that there is such a thing as genuine collective belief, in contrast to mere collective acceptance. I argue that even if she is right, we need to distinguish two modes of collective belief. On one, a group’s believing something as a body is a matter of its relating to a proposition, as a body, in the same way that an individual who has formed a belief on some matter relates to the proposition believed. On (...)
  15. The Banned Books of England and Other Countries.Cyril Bibby - 1963 - The Eugenics Review 54 (4):221.
  16. Shared Memory, Odours and Sociotransmitters Or: "Save the Interaction!".Joël Candau - 2010 - Outlines. Critical Practice Studies 12 (2):29-42.
    Collective memory, social memory, professional memory: although these notions are in current use when we name the shared (or assumed to be shared) representations of the past, they are very ambiguous. The point at issue is to show how memories can become common to some or to all members of a group . In this paper, I shall base my arguments on the simplest situation imaginable: The sharing of a memory of an olfactory experience by two individuals, namely one of (...)
  17. Memory and Identity of Europe.Remo Bodei - 2009 - Iris. European Journal of Philosophy and Public Debate 1 (1):19-25.
    How can the European Union comprehend and receive millions of persons without losing its identity? An identity that, moreover, is itself multiple, expansive, clustered. The European Community has recently been enriched by twelve new members – ten eastern and central European and two Mediterranean states. This enlargement, on the one hand, will serve to heal a historical wound, closing the rift that divided the soil of Europe with the so-called “Iron Curtain”; on the other, it will open even more intense (...)
  18. Modern Social Imaginaries.Charles Blattberg - 2006 - Dialogue 45 (1):183-185.
  19. Should Collective Bargaining and Labor Relations Be Less Adversarial?Norman E. Bowie - 1985 - Journal of Business Ethics 4 (4):283 - 291.
    In this paper I argue that the poker analogy is unsuitable as a model for collective bargaining negotiations. Using the poker game analogy is imprudent, its use undermines trust and ignores the cooperative features of business, and its use fails to take into account the values of dignity and fairness which should characterize labor-management negotiations. I propose and defend a model of ideal family decision-making as a superior model to the poker game.
Collective Mentality, Misc
  1. Shared Intention is Not Joint Commitment.Matthew Kopec & Seumas Miller - 2018 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 13 (2):179-189.
    Margaret Gilbert has long defended the view that, roughly speaking, agents share the intention to perform an action if and only if they jointly commit to performing that action. This view has proven both influential and controversial. While some authors have raised concerns over the joint commitment view of shared intention, including at times offering purported counterexamples to certain aspects of the view, straightforward counterexamples to the view as a whole have yet to appear in the literature. Here we provide (...)
  2. New Age: A Modus of Hegemony.Goran Kauzlarić - 2016 - In Mark Losoncz, Igor Krtolica & Aleksandar Matković (eds.), Thinking beyond capitalism, conference proceedings. Belgrade, Serbia: Institute for philosophy and social theory. pp. 175-198.
    To understand fully the contemporary imposition of capitalist class power, we need to consider not only social relations and neoliberal economic doctrines, but also academic and vernacular cultural contexts, including social critique, within which neoliberalism has been ideologically tailored and practically applied. Among the vernacular cultural contexts, religion – related to deepest human identifications, feelings and ideas about the nature of reality – certainly represents such an unavoidable political resource, inseparable from secular ideologies of a given social world. Taking this (...)
  3. Collective Intentionality.Marija Jankovic & Kirk Ludwig - 2016 - In Lee McIntyre & Alex Rosenberg (eds.), The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Social Science. New York: Routledge. pp. 214-227.
    In this chapter, we focus on collective action and intention, and their relation to conventions, status functions, norms, institutions, and shared attitudes more generally. Collective action and shared intention play a foundational role in our understanding of the social. -/- The three central questions in the study of collective intentionality are: -/- (1) What is the ontology of collective intentionality? In particular, are groups per se intentional agents, as opposed to just their individual members? (2) What is the psychology of (...)
  4. 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).
  5. 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 (...)
  6. Phenomenal Consciousness, Collective Mentality, and Collective Moral Responsibility.Matthew Baddorf - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (11):2769-2786.
    Are corporations and other complex groups ever morally responsible in ways that do not reduce to the moral responsibility of their members? Christian List, Phillip Pettit, Kendy Hess, and David Copp have recently defended the idea that they can be. For them, complex groups (sometimes called collectives) can be irreducibly morally responsible because they satisfy the conditions for morally responsible agency; and this view is made more plausible by the claim (made by Theiner) that collectives can have minds. In this (...)
  7. The Multiple, Interacting Levels of Cognitive Systems Perspective on Group Cognition.Rob Goldstone & Georg Theiner - 2017 - Philosophical Psychology 30 (3):334-368.
    In approaching the question of whether groups of people can have cognitive capacities that are fundamentally different than the cognitive capacities of the individuals within the group, we lay out a Multiple, Interactive Levels of Cognitive Systems (MILCS) framework. The goal of MILCS is to explain the kinds of cognitive processes typically studied by cognitive scientists, such as perception, attention, memory, categorization, decision making, problem solving, and judgment. Rather than focusing on high-level constructs such as modules in an information processing (...)
  8. What is It Like to Be a Group Agent?Christian List - 2016 - Noûs:295-319.
    The existence of group agents is relatively widely accepted. Examples are corporations, courts, NGOs, and even entire states. But should we also accept that there is such a thing as group consciousness? I give an overview of some of the key issues in this debate and sketch a tentative argument for the view that group agents lack phenomenal consciousness. In developing my argument, I draw on integrated information theory, a much-discussed theory of consciousness. I conclude by pointing out an implication (...)
  9. Pushing the Bounds of Rationality: Argumentation and Extended Cognition.David Godden - 2016 - In Fabio Paglieri, Laura Bonelli & Silvia Felletti (eds.), The psychology of argument: Cognitive approaches to argumentation and persuasion. London: College Publications. pp. 67-83.
    One of the central tasks of a theory of argumentation is to supply a theory of appraisal: a set of standards and norms according to which argumentation, and the reasoning involved in it, is properly evaluated. In their most general form, these can be understood as rational norms, where the core idea of rationality is that we rightly respond to reasons by according the credence we attach to our doxastic and conversational commitments with the probative strength of the reasons we (...)
  10. The DBO Theory of Action and Distributed Cognition.T. Kaidesoja - 2012 - Social Science Information 51 (3):311-337.
  11. xAAL: A Distributed Infrastructure for Heterogeneous Ambient Devices.Jérôme Kerdreux, Philippe Tanguy & Christophe Lohr - 2015 - Journal of Intelligent Systems 24 (3):321-331.
    Ambient assisted living systems are based on sensors and actuators, with a diversity of network protocols and vendors. This commonly leads to the introduction of gateways or middlewares into the technical infrastructure in order to address interoperability issues. The xAAL framework presented in this paper aims to provide interoperability and to redesign such “gateways” into well-defined functional entities communicating with each other via a lightweight message bus over IP. Each entity may have multiple instances, may be shared between several boxes, (...)
  12. Analyzing the Role of Communications Technology in C4i Scenarios: A Distributed Cognition Approach.G. H. Walker, N. A. Stanton, H. Gibson, C. Baber, M. S. Young & D. Green - 2006 - Journal of Intelligent Systems 15 (1-4):299-328.
  13. Distributed Perspectives in Future Workspaces.Roman Boutellier - 2016 - In Martina Plümacher & Günter Abel (eds.), The Power of Distributed Perspectives. De Gruyter. pp. 119-136.
  14. The Power of Distributed Perspectives.Martina Plümacher & Günter Abel - unknown
  15. Review of The Myth of the Framework and Knowledge and the Body-Mind Problem. [REVIEW]Ray Scott Percival - 1997 - New Scientist (10th Dec).
    The myth of the framework, as Popper explains it, is the idea that a rational and fruitful discussion is impossible unless the participants share a common framework of basic assumptions or, at least, unless they have agreed on such a framework for the purposes of the discussion. Popper admits that understanding another mind or language max' be difficult, but if there is a desire to understand another person's aims and problems you can bridge the gap.
  16. Distributed Search Methods for Quantified Distributed Constraint Optimization Problem.Toshihiro Matsui, Marius C. Silaghi, Katsutoshi Hirayama, Makoto Yokoo & Hiroshi Matsuo - 2013 - Transactions of the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence 28 (1):43-56.
  17. Layered Distributed Constraint Optimization for Resource Allocation Problem in Distributed Sensor Network.Kazuhiro Ota, Toshihiro Matsui & Hiroshi Matsuo - 2011 - Transactions of the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence 26 (6):657-669.
  18. The Affective 'We': Self-Regulation and Shared Emotions.Joel Krueger - 2015 - In Thomas Szanto & Dermot Moran (eds.), The Phenomenology of Sociality: Discovering the 'We'. Routledge. pp. 263-277.
    What does it mean to say that an emotion can be shared? I consider this question, focusing on the relation between the phenomenology of emotion experience and self-regulation. I explore the idea that a numerically single emotion can be given to more than one subject. I term this a “collective emotion”. First, I consider different forms of emotion regulation. I distinguish between embodied forms of self-regulation, which use subject-centered features of our embodiment, and distributed forms of self-regulation, which incorporate resources (...)
  19. Distributed Processes, Distributed Cognizers, and Collaborative Cognition.Stevan Harnad - 2005 - Pragmatics and Cognitionpragmatics and Cognition 13 (3):501-514.
  20. Distributed Cognition: A Methodological Note.David Kirsh - 2006 - Pragmatics and Cognitionpragmatics and Cognition 14 (2):249-262.
    Humans are closely coupled with their environments. They rely on being `embedded' to help coordinate the use of their internal cognitive resources with external tools and resources. Consequently, everyday cognition, even cognition in the absence of others, may be viewed as partially distributed. As cognitive scientists our job is to discover and explain the principles governing this distribution: principles of coordination, externalization, and interaction. As designers our job is to use these principles, especially if they can be converted to metrics, (...)
  21. Collaborative Tagging as Distributed Cognition.Luc Steels - 2006 - Pragmatics and Cognitionpragmatics and Cognition 14 (2):287-292.
  22. Crime Scene Investigation as Distributed Cognition.Chris Baber, Paul Smith, James Cross, John E. Hunter & Richard McMaster - 2006 - Pragmatics and Cognitionpragmatics and Cognition 14 (2):357-385.
  23. A Framework for Thinking About Distributed Cognition.Pierre Poirier & Guillaume Chicoisne - 2006 - Pragmatics and Cognitionpragmatics and Cognition 14 (2):215-234.
    As is often the case when scientific or engineering fields emerge, new concepts are forged or old ones are adapted. When this happens, various arguments rage over what ultimately turns out to be conceptual misunderstandings. At that critical time, there is a need for an explicit reflection on the meaning of the concepts that define the field. In this position paper, we aim to provide a reasoned framework in which to think about various issues in the field of distributed cognition. (...)
  24. 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 (...)
  25. Distributed Cognition and the Will: Individual Volition and Social Context.Don Ross, David Spurrett, Harold Kincaid & G. Lynn Stephens (eds.) - 2007 - Bradford.
    Recent scientific findings about human decision making would seem to threaten the traditional concept of the individual conscious will. The will is threatened from "below" by the discovery that our apparently spontaneous actions are actually controlled and initiated from below the level of our conscious awareness, and from "above" by the recognition that we adapt our actions according to social dynamics of which we are seldom aware. In Distributed Cognition and the Will, leading philosophers and behavioral scientists consider how much, (...)
  26. Is Distributed Cognition Group Level Cognition?Kirk Ludwig - 2015 - Journal of Social Ontology 1 (2):189-224.
    This paper shows that recent arguments from group problem solving and task performance to emergent group level cognition that rest on the social parity and related principles are invalid or question begging. The paper shows that standard attributions of problem solving or task performance to groups require only multiple agents of the outcome, not a group agent over and above its members, whether or not any individual member of the group could have accomplished the task independently.
  27. Groups as Agents.Deborah Tollefsen - 2015 - Polity.
    In the social sciences and in everyday speech we often talk about groups as if they behaved in the same way as individuals, thinking and acting as a singular being. We say for example that "Google intends to develop an automated car", "the U.S. Government believes that Syria has used chemical weapons on its people", or that "the NRA wants to protect the rights of gun owners". We also often ascribe legal and moral responsibility to groups. But could groups literally (...)
  28. Group Minds and Explanatory Simplicity.Mark Sprevak & David Statham - 2015 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 76:3-19.
    This paper explores the claim that explanation of a group 's behaviour in term of individual mental states is, in principle, superior to explanation of that behaviour in terms of group mental states. We focus on the supposition that individual-level explanation is superior because it is simpler than group -level explanation. In this paper, we consider three different simplicity metrics. We argue that on none of those metrics does individual-level explanation achieve greater simplicity than a group -level alternative. We conclude (...)
  29. The Routledge Handbook of Collective Intentionality.Kirk Ludwig & Marija Jankovic (eds.) - 2018 - Routledge.
    The Routledge Handbook of Collective Intentionality is the first of its kind, synthesizing research from several disciplines for all students and professionals interested in better understanding the nature and structure of social reality. The contents of the volume are divided into eight sections, each of which begins with a short introduction: Collective Action and Intention Shared and Joint Attitudes Epistemology and Rationality in the Social Context Social Ontology Collectives and Responsibility Collective Intentionality and Social Institutions The Extent, Origins, and Development (...)
  30. Toward a Theory of Collective Mind: Collective Mind Through Analogy in Current Bodies of Knowledge.James Stuart Kirley - 1999 - Dissertation, Georgia State University
    Current paradigms in organizational behavior and human resource development treat collective mind principally as the simple sum of thought processes within an organization. These paradigms view organizational change and learning as essentially a mass effort of modifying individual behavior. This worldview is also consistent with traditional Western philosophy and theology. However, implicit in much of the research and literature in organization theory, anthropology, and other life sciences is the idea of mind that is of a higher system order, and distinct (...)
  31. W. McDougall, The Group Mind. [REVIEW]Beatrice Edgell - 1920 - Hibbert Journal 19:165.
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