Erkenntnis 79 (S9):1685-1701 (2014)

Under normal circumstances, saying that you have a thought, a belief, a desire, or an intention differs from saying that somebody (who happens to be you) has that attitude. The former statement comes with some form of first person authority and constitutes commitments that are not involved in the latter case. Speaking with first person authority, and thereby publicly committing oneself, is a practice that plays an important role in our communication and in our understanding of what it means to be a person. In their Group Agency, Christian List and Philip Pettit argue that some corporations are agents with attitudes of their own, and they claim that they are persons. The question on which this paper is focused is: Can corporations (groups with attitudes and the capacity for linguistic communication) participate in this practice, that is, can they express their attitudes with first person authority, and thereby enter first person commitments? The first section of the paper gives a rough (and, I hope, ecumenical) account of some features of first person authority and commitment. The second section examines if and how this account of first person authority carries over to corporations. It is argued that the possibility for groups to express their attitudes with straightforward first person authority, and thus to enter first person commitments, are extremely limited. The third part of the paper argues that while under normal circumstances, a member’s expression of her group’s attitudes in first person plural terms does not constitute straightforward first person authority, it does come with something resembling some aspects of the first-personal commitments encountered in the singular case
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DOI 10.1007/s10670-014-9635-8
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References found in this work BETA

Plural Self-Awareness.Hans Bernhard Schmid - 2014 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 13 (1):7-24.
Self-Knowledge: Discovery, Resolution, and Undoing.Richard Moran - 1997 - European Journal of Philosophy 5 (2):141-61.
Group Speech Acts.Justin Hughes - 1984 - Linguistics and Philosophy 7 (4):379 - 395.

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