Journal of Social Philosophy 52 (3):310-327 (2021)

Prominent accounts of collective intentional activity explain the nature of social groups by virtue of a specific criterion: goal-directedness. In doing so, these accounts offer little in the way of determining whether there are any differences among social groups. In this paper, I propose a refined framework of collective intentional activity that can distinguish among social groups better than alternative accounts, and which has revisionary but nevertheless plausible implications for the nature of the family: specifically, that certain friendship relationships may count as genuinely familial, and that we ought to count them as such. I argue that social groups are distinguished by what we can expect from one another within different kinds of social groups; specifically, that there is an important difference between reciprocity that is equivalent in performance and reciprocity that is equivalent in intention; familial groups are specifically guided by this latter kind of reciprocity. This more inclusive definition of familial groups may have important implications for how such groups are supported within a given society – for instance, by recognizing certain caring relations as essential for well-being and supporting them accordingly.
Keywords joint commitment  social ontology  family  reciprocity  social groups  friendship  corporations
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Reprint years 2021
DOI 10.1111/josp.12435
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