Some Forms of Collectively Bringing About or ‘Seeing to it that’

Journal of Philosophical Logic 50 (2):249-283 (2021)

Abstract

One of the best known approaches to the logic of agency are the ‘stit’ logics. Often, it is not the actions of an individual agent that bring about a certain outcome but the joint actions of a set of agents, collectively. Collective agency has received comparatively little attention in ‘stit’. The paper maps out several different forms, several different senses in which a particular set of agents, collectively, can be said to bring about a certain outcome, and examines how these forms can be expressed in ‘stit’ and stit-like logics. The outcome that is brought about may be unintentional, and perhaps even accidental; the account deliberately ignores aspects such as joint intention, communication between agents, awareness of other agents’ intentions and capabilities, even the awareness of another agent’s existence. The aim is to investigate what can be said about collective agency when all such considerations are ignored, besides mere consequences of joint actions. The account will be related to the ‘strictly stit’ of Belnap and Perloff, 25–48 1993) and their suggestions concerning ‘inessential members’ and ‘mere bystanders’. We will adjust some of those conjectures and distinguish further between ‘potentially contributing bystanders’ and ‘impotent bystanders’.

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