Distinguishing joint actions from collective actions

Synthese 193 (9) (2016)

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Abstract
This paper argues that the intentional actions of collective entities, such as corporations and agencies, are not necessarily joint intentional actions by several members of those collectives. I briefly summarize the social action theories of John Searle, Michael Bratman, Margaret Gilbert, Raimo Tuomela, and Seumas Miller, which I argue are all theories of joint action. I then describe a case based loosely on events from the 2008 financial crisis in which an intentional collective action is performed by a corporation due to the actions of two employees who have no knowledge of one another, and therefore cannot be engaged in a joint intentional action. I argue that this shows that, contrary to what joint action theorists are committed to, every intentional collective action does not entail the existence of a joint intentional action. Finally, I suggest that we should look for a weaker notion of coordination than that employed by joint action theories, and that this might be provided by examining the command structures of organizations
Keywords Collective intentionality  Social action  Social epistemology  Corporate personhood
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Reprint years 2016
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-015-0876-0
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