Collective Intentional Activities and the Law

Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 29 (2):305-324 (2009)

We ascribe the performance of intentional actions to groups. We claim, for instance, that the orchestra is playing a symphony, that a gang has robbed a bank, and so on. But what is a collective intentional action? Most accounts suggest that, for there to be a collective intentional action, at least two necessary conditions should be met. First, participants must act in accordance with, and because of, the intentions that the group perform a certain action. Second, there must be common knowledge. These accounts, however, face two difficulties. On the one hand, they are uninformatively circular, for they employ in the analysis the very notion of group-action that they are trying to elucidate. On the other hand, they are too demanding, for there are cases of collective intentional action where neither of the conditions is met. The article proposes, by developing further an account put forward by Christopher Kutz, a model of collective intentional actions that overcomes these two problems. It also suggests why such a model is important for our understanding of the law
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DOI 10.1093/ojls/gqp007
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