Are companies, churches, and states genuine agents? Or are they just collections of individuals that give a misleading impression of unity? This question is important, since the answer dictates how we should explain the behaviour of these entities and whether we should treat them as responsible and accountable on the model of individual agents. Group Agency offers a new approach to that question and is relevant, therefore, to a range of fields from philosophy to law, politics, and the social sciences. (...) Christian List and Philip Pettit argue that there really are group or corporate agents, over and above the individual agents who compose them, and that a proper approach to the social sciences, law, morality, and politics must take account of this fact. Unlike some earlier defences of group agency, their account is entirely unmysterious in character and, despite not being technically difficult, is grounded in cutting-edge work in social choice theory, economics, and philosophy. (shrink)
Suppose that the members of a group each hold a rational set of judgments on some interconnected questions, and imagine that the group itself has to form a collective, rational set of judgments on those questions. How should it go about dealing with this task? We argue that the question raised is subject to a difficulty that has recently been noticed in discussion of the doctrinal paradox in jurisprudence. And we show that there is a general impossibility theorem that that (...) difficulty illustrates. Our paper describes this impossibility result and provides an exploration of its significance. The result naturally invites comparison with Kenneth Arrow's famous theorem (Arrow, 1963 and 1984; Sen, 1970) and we elaborate that comparison in a companion paper (List and Pettit, 2002). The paper is in four sections. The first section documents the need for various groups to aggregate its members' judgments; the second presents the discursive paradox; the third gives an informal statement of the more general impossibility result; the formal proof is presented in an appendix. The fourth section, finally, discusses some escape routes from that impossibility. (shrink)
Are companies, churches, and states genuine agents? Or are they just collections of individual agents that give a misleading impression of unity? Group Agency offers a new approach to that question and is relevant, therefore, in a range of fields from philosophy to law, politics, and the social sciences. Christian List and Philip Pettit take the line that there really are group or corporate agents, over and above the individual agents who compose them, and that a proper social science (...) and a proper approach to law, morality, and politics have to take account of this fact. (shrink)
The ``doctrinal paradox'' or ``discursive dilemma'' shows that propositionwise majority voting over the judgments held by multiple individuals on some interconnected propositions can lead to inconsistent collective judgments on these propositions. List and Pettit (2002) have proved that this paradox illustrates a more general impossibility theorem showing that there exists no aggregation procedure that generally produces consistent collective judgments and satisfies certain minimal conditions. Although the paradox and the theorem concern the aggregation of judgments rather than preferences, they invite (...) comparison with two established results on the aggregation of preferences: the Condorcet paradox and Arrow's impossibility theorem. We may ask whether the new impossibility theorem is a special case of Arrow's theorem, or whether there are interesting disanalogies between the two results. In this paper, we compare the two theorems, and show that they are not straightforward corollaries of each other. We further suggest that, while the framework of preference aggregation can be mapped into the framework of judgment aggregation, there exists no obvious reverse mapping. Finally, we address one particular minimal condition that is used in both theorems – an independence condition – and suggest that this condition points towards a unifying property underlying both impossibility results. (shrink)
The most prominent argument for the incompatibility of free will and determinism is Peter van Inwagen’s consequence argument. In this paper, I offer a new diagnosis of what is wrong with this argument. Both proponents and critics of the argument typically accept the way it is framed and only disagree on whether the argument’s premises and the rules of inference on which it relies are true. I suggest that the argument involves a category mistake: it conflates two different levels of (...) description, namely the physical level at which we describe the state of the world from the perspective of fundamental physics and the agential level at which we describe agents and their actions. My diagnosis is based on an account of free will as a higher-level phenomenon that was developed in List (2014). I will call this account ‘compatibilist libertarianism’, for reasons that will become clear in the discussion. (shrink)
Drawing on the so-called “doctrinal paradox”, List and Pettit (2002) have shown that, given an unrestricted domain condition, there exists no procedure for aggregating individual sets of judgments over multiple interconnected propositions into corresponding collective ones, where the procedure satisfies some minimal conditions similar to the conditions of Arrow’s theorem. I prove that we can avoid the paradox and the associated impossibility result by introducing an appropriate domain restriction: a structure condition, called unidimensional alignment, is shown to open up (...) a possibility result, similar in spirit to Black’s median voter theorem. Specifically, I prove that, given unidimensional alignment, propositionwise majority voting is the unique procedure for aggregating individual sets of judgments into collective ones in accordance with the above mentioned minimal conditions. (shrink)
Bayesian epistemology tells us with great precision how we should move from prior to posterior beliefs in light of new evidence or information, but says little about where our prior beliefs come from. It offers few resources to describe some prior beliefs as rational or well-justified, and others as irrational or unreasonable. A different strand of epistemology takes the central epistemological question to be not how to change one’s beliefs in light of new evidence, but what reasons justify a given (...) set of beliefs in the first place. We offer an account of rational belief formation that closes some of the gap between Bayesianism and its reason-based alternative, formalizing the idea that an agent can have reasons for his or her (prior) beliefs, in addition to evidence or information in the ordinary Bayesian sense. Our analysis of reasons for belief is part of a larger programme of research on the role of reasons in rational agency (Dietrich and List, Nous, 2012a, in press; Int J Game Theory, 2012b, in press). (shrink)
In the theory of judgment aggregation, it is known for which agendas of propositions it is possible to aggregate individual judgments into collective ones in accordance with the Arrow-inspired requirements of universal domain, collective rationality, unanimity preservation, non-dictatorship and propositionwise independence. But it is only partially known (e.g., only in the monotonic case) for which agendas it is possible to respect additional requirements, notably non-oligarchy, anonymity, no individual veto power, or implication preservation. We fully characterize the agendas for which there (...) are such possibilities, thereby answering the most salient open questions about propositionwise judgment aggregation. Our results build on earlier results by Nehring and Puppe (2002), Nehring (2006), Dietrich and List (2007a) and Dokow and Holzman (2010a). (shrink)
This item was published as 'Appendix 3: An Implication of the k-option Condorcet jury mechanism for the probability of cycles' in List and Goodin (2001) http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/705/. Standard results suggest that the probability of cycles should increase as the number of options increases and also as the number of individuals increases. These results are, however, premised on a so-called "impartial culture" assumption: any logically possible preference ordering is assumed to be as likely to be held by an individual as any (...) other. The present chapter shows, in the three-option case, that given suitably systematic, however slight, deviations from an impartial culture situation, the probability of a cycle converges either to zero (more typically) or to one (less typically) as the number of individuals increases. (shrink)
In this note, I correct an error in List (2003). I warmly thank Ron Holzman for drawing my attention to this error, and Franz Dietrich for giving me some key insights that have led to the present correction, particularly the formulation of assumption (a*) below. Theorem 2 (speci…cally, the claim that (i) implies (ii) and the associated Proposition 2) in List (2003) requires an additional assumption on the set X of propositions under consideration (the agenda). Let me use (...) the de…nitions and notation from List (2003). Also, de…ne a set of propositions to be satis…able if some truth-value assignment makes all its members true, and, for each Y X, de…ne Y : := f: : 2Yg. In List (2003), I assumed that (a) X contains at least two distinct atomic propositions P; Q and their conjunction (P ^ Q), and (b) X contains proposition-negation pairs (i.e. if 2 X, then : 2 X, where :: is identi…ed with ). While assumption (b) is correct as stated, Theorem 2 requires assumption (a*) instead of (a). (shrink)
Vesilind, P.A. There Is No Such Thing As Environmental Ethics,Science and Engineering Ethics 2:307–318.Peter List is a professor of philosophy at Oregon State University where he teaches classical Western Philosophy, environmental ethics and contemporary social ethics and is a member of the program for Ethics, Science and the Environment.
Do hunting and fishing lead to the development of environmental virtues? This question is at the heart of philosopher Charles List’s engaging study, which provides a defense of field sports when they are practiced and understood in an ethical manner. In his argument, List examines the connection between certain activities and the development of virtue in the classical sources, such as Aristotle and Plato. He then explores the work of Aldo Leopold, identifying three key environmental virtues that field (...) sports instill in practitioners in the kind of conservation advocated by Leopold and others. After reviewing several powerful philosophical objections to his viewpoint, List considers the future of environmental sportsmanship. He suggests that, in order to incorporate a revived connection between field sports and environmental virtue, the practice of hunting and angling must undergo changes, including shifts that would impact hunter education, civic engagement, the role of firearms, our understanding of “game” animals, and alliances with other sorts of outdoor recreation. _ Hunting, Fishing, and Environmental Virtue_ will appeal to academics interested in the ethical issues surrounding hunting and fishing, professionals in wildlife management, and hunters and anglers interested in conservation. (shrink)
Political theorists have offered many accounts of collective decision-making under pluralism. I discuss a key dimension on which such accounts differ: the importance assigned not only to the choices made but also to the reasons underlying those choices. On that dimension, different accounts lie in between two extremes. The ‘minimal liberal account’ holds that collective decisions should be made only on practical actions or policies and that underlying reasons should be kept private. The ‘comprehensive deliberative account’ stresses the importance of (...) giving reasons for collective decisions, where such reasons should also be collectively decided. I compare these two accounts on the basis of a formal model developed in the growing literature on the ‘discursive dilemma’ and ‘judgment aggregation’ and address several questions: What is the trade-off between the (minimal liberal) demand for reaching agreement on outcomes and the (comprehensive deliberative) demand for reason-giving? How large should the ‘sphere of public reason’ be? When do the decision procedures suggested by the two accounts agree and when not? How good are these procedures at truthtracking on factual matters? What strategic incentives do they generate for decision-makers? My discussion identifies what is at stake in the choice between minimal liberal and comprehensive deliberative accounts of collective decisionmaking, and sheds light not only on these two ideal-typical accounts themselves, but also on many characteristics that intermediate accounts share with them. (shrink)
This paper generalises the classical Condorcet jury theorem from majority voting over two options to plurality voting over multiple options. The paper further discusses the debate between epistemic and procedural democracy and situates its formal results in that debate. The paper finally compares a number of different social choice procedures for many-option choices in terms of their epistemic merits. An appendix explores the implications of some of the present mathematical results for the question of how probable majority cycles (as in (...) Condorcet's paradox) are in large electorates. (shrink)
Our aim in this survey article is to provide an accessible overview of some key results and questions in the theory of judgment aggregation. We omit proofs and technical details, focusing instead on concepts and underlying ideas.
In a recent paper on ‘The Many as One’, Lewis A. Kornhauser and Lawrence G. Sager look at an issue that we take to be of great importance in political theory. How far should groups in public life try to speak with one voice, and act with one mind? How far should public groups try to display what Ronald Dworkin calls integrity? We do not expect the many on the market to be integrated in this sense. But should we expect (...) integration among the many in the legislature, for example, or among the many on the courts? We agree with Kornhauser and Sager about a number of their claims but think that they miss out on important detail and do not achieve a fully general perspective on the issues raised. Our own contribution is in three sections. We address, first, the nature of the integrity challenge; second, the range of cases in which the challenge arises; and third, the question of whether public groups should be designed and required to meet that challenge. (shrink)
Under the independence and competence assumptions of Condorcet’s classical jury model, the probability of a correct majority decision converges to certainty as the jury size increases, a seemingly unrealistic result. Using Bayesian networks, we argue that the model’s independence assumption requires that the state of the world (guilty or not guilty) is the latest common cause of all jurors’ votes. But often – arguably in all courtroom cases and in many expert panels – the latest such common cause is a (...) shared ‘body of evidence’ observed by the jurors. In the corresponding Bayesian network, the votes are direct descendants not of the state of the world, but of the body of evidence, which in turn is a direct descendant of the state of the world. We develop a model of jury decisions based on this Bayesian network. Our model permits the possibility of misleading evidence, even for a maximally competent observer, which cannot easily be accommodated in the classical model. We prove that (i) the probability of a correct majority verdict converges to the probability that the body of evidence is not misleading, a value typically below 1; (ii) depending on the required threshold of ‘no reasonable doubt’, it may be impossible, even in an arbitrarily large jury, to establish guilt of a defendant ‘beyond any reasonable doubt’. (shrink)
The exclusion argument is widely thought to put considerable pressure on dualism if not to refute it outright. We argue to the contrary that, whether or not their position is ultimately true, dualists have a plausible response. The response focuses on the notion of ‘distinctness’ as it occurs in the argument: if 'distinctness' is understood one way, the exclusion principle on which the argument is founded can be denied by the dualist; if it is understood another way, the argument is (...) not persuasive. (shrink)
A framing effect occurs when an agent's choices are not invariant under changes in the way a decision problem is presented, e.g. changes in the way options are described (violation of description invariance) or preferences are elicited (violation of procedure invariance). Here we identify those rationality violations that underlie framing effects. We attribute to the agent a sequential decision process in which a “target” proposition and several “background” propositions are considered. We suggest that the agent exhibits a framing effect if (...) and only if two conditions are met. First, different presentations of the decision problem lead the agent to consider the propositions in a different order (the empirical condition). Second, different such “decision paths” lead to different decisions on the target proposition (the logical condition). The second condition holds when the agent's initial dispositions on the propositions are “implicitly inconsistent,” which may be caused by violations of “deductive closure.” Our account is consistent with some observations made by psychologists and provides a unified framework for explaining violations of description and procedure invariance. (shrink)
Distributed cognition refers to processes which are (i) cognitive and (ii) distributed across multiple agents or devices rather than performed by a single agent. Distributed cognition has attracted interest in several fields ranging from sociology and law to computer science and the philosophy of science. In this paper, I discuss distributed cognition from a social-choice-theoretic perspective. Drawing on models of judgment aggregation, I address two questions. First, how can we model a group of individuals as a distributed cognitive system? Second, (...) can a group acting as a distributed cognitive system be ‘rational’ and ‘track the truth’ in the outputs it produces? I argue that a group’s performance as a distributed cognitive system depends on its ‘aggregation procedure’ – its mechanism for aggregating the group members’ inputs into collective outputs – and I investigate the properties of an aggregation procedure that matter. (shrink)
Suppose the members of a group (e.g., committee, jury, expert panel) each form a judgment on which worlds in a given set are possible, subject to the constraint that at least one world is possible but not all are. The group seeks to aggregate these individual judgments into a collective judgment, subject to the same constraint. I show that no judgment aggregation rule can solve this problem in accordance with three conditions: “unanimity,” “independence” and “non-dictatorship,” Although the result is a (...) variant of an existing theorem on “group identification” (Kasher and Rubinstein, Logique et Analyse 160:385–395, 1997), the aggregation of judgments on which worlds are possible (or permissible, desirable, etc.) appears not to have been studied yet. The result challenges us to take a stance on which of its conditions to relax. (shrink)
Free speech, its many definitions, and efforts by special interest groups to assure their message is distributed have led to sharp conflict and rising tensions, particularly in universities. For over 10 years, tactics at the University of Massachusetts to assure newspaper content acceptable to special interest groups serve as an example in this article. Women editors seeking guaranteed pages in the university newspaper for women with content unreviewed by regular editors illustrates the rocky path of protest, negotiation, and examination and (...) a resulting confusion and dissatisfaction among all parties. (shrink)
This chapter is divided into three parts. First I outline what makes something an objective list theory of well-being. I then go on to look at the motivations for holding such a view before turning to objections to these theories of well-being.
A subjective list theory of well-being is one that accepts both pluralism (the view that there is more than one basic good) and subjectivism (the view, roughly, that every basic good involves our favourable attitudes). Such theories have been neglected in discussions of welfare. I argue that this is a mistake. I introduce a subjective list theory called disjunctive desire satisfactionism, and I argue that it is superior to two prominent monistic subjectivist views: desire satisfactionism and subjective desire (...) satisfactionism. In the course of making this argument, I introduce a problem for desire satisfactionism: it cannot accommodate the fact that whenever someone experiences an attitudinal pleasure, his welfare is (other things equal) higher during the pleasure. Finally, I argue that any subjectivist about welfare should find disjunctive desire satisfactionism highly attractive. (shrink)
RATIONALE AND AIMS: Total hip and knee replacements, usually, have long waiting lists. There are several prioritization tools for these kind of patients. A new tool should undergo a standardized validation process. The aim of the present study was to validate a new prioritization tool for primary hip and knee replacements. METHODS: We carried out a prospective study. Consecutive patients placed on the waiting list were eligible for the study. Patients included were mailed a questionnaire which included, among other (...) questions, the seven items of the priority tool and the Western Ontario and McMasters Universities Arthritis Index (WOMAC) specific questionnaire. The priority tool gives a score from 0 to 100 points, and three categories (urgent, preferent and ordinary). We studied the content and construct validity. We used Student's t-test or one-way analysis of variance. Correlational analysis was used to evaluate convergent and discriminate validity. RESULTS: The sample consisted of 838 patients (62.3% were female), with mean age of 70.2 years (SD 8.4). A total of 55.5% patients underwent knee replacement. Given that the tool was elaborated by patients and orthopaedic surgeons, it shows a good content validity. The priority score was statistically different (P < 0.001) among the three urgency categories created. The scores of the three WOMAC dimensions showed differences (P < 0.001) by the three urgency categories created. The correlations between the priority score and WOMAC dimensions were 0.79 (function), 0.69 (pain) and 0.51 (stiffness). The correlations between WOMAC items and items from priority tool were greater (0.47-0.69) between items measuring similar constructs than those measuring different constructs (0.27-0.49). These data are similar in both joints. CONCLUSIONS: Results support the validity of the prioritization tool to be used with patients waiting for hip or knee replacement. (shrink)
Clues about what Berkeley was planning to say about mind in his now-lost second volume of the Principles seem to abound in his Notebooks. However, commentators have been reluctant to use his unpublished entries to explicate his remarks about spiritual substances in the Principles and Dialogues for three reasons. First, it has proven difficult to reconcile the seemingly Humean bundle theory of the self in the Notebooks with Berkeley's published characterization of spirits as “active beings or principles.” Second, the fact (...) that Berkeley did not publish his Notebooks insights on mind has led some to claim that he later rejected his early views. Third, many of the Notebooks entries on mind have a ‘+’ sign next to them, which has been understood for decades to comprise a Black List of views about which Berkeley had doubts or subsequently rejected. In my dialogue, I describe how Berkeley's “congeries” account of mind (1) differs from Hume's bundle theory in a way that complements Berkeley's published remarks and (2) undercuts the claim that he later rejected his early views. Most importantly, (3) I show how a careful analysis of the British Library manuscript of the Notebooks refutes the Black List hypothesis. (shrink)
Many philosophers with hedonistic sympathies (e.g., Mill, Sidgwick, Sumner, Feldman, Crisp, Heathwood, and Bradley) have claimed that well-being is necessarily experiential. Kagan once claimed something slightly different, saying that, although unexperienced bodily events can directly impact a person’s well-being, it is nonetheless true that any change in a person’s well-being must involve a change in her (i.e., either in her mind or in her body). Kagan elaborated by saying that a person’s well-being cannot float freely of her such that it (...) is affected by events that do not affect her (Kagan 1992, 169–189). These two claims—that well-being is necessarily experiential and that changes in well-being must involve changes in the person—are two different ways of specifying the general intuition that a person’s well-being must be strongly tied to her. This general intuition imposes an adequacy constraint on welfare theorizing: To be adequate, a welfare theory cannot allow that someone can be directly benefited by events that are not strongly tied to her. Call this the strong-tie requirement. The strong-tie requirement is easily satisfied by welfare hedonism, but it poses problems for desire-fulfillment welfare theories and objective-list welfare theories. Though a great deal has been written about desire-fulfillment welfare theories in relation to the strong-tie requirement, not as much has been written about objective-list welfare theories in relation to the strong-tie requirement. This paper argues that objective-list welfare theories can satisfy the strong-tie requirement, though probably only if they take a perfectionist form, as opposed to a brute-list form. (shrink)
Christian List and Philip Pettit argue that some groups qualify as rational agents over and above their members. Examples include churches, commercial corporations, and political parties. According to the theory developed by List and Pettit, these groups qualify as agents because they have beliefs and desires and the capacity to process them and to act on their basis. Moreover, the alleged group agents are said to be rational to a high degree and even to be fit to be (...) held morally responsible. And the group agents under consideration are autonomous, according to the List-Pettit Theory, because their beliefs and desires cannot easily be reduced to the beliefs and desires of the groups’ members. I want to show that we should not accept the List-Pettit Theory, because it implies the absurd claim that instrument-user units, like car-driver units, are rational agents over and above their user-parts, say drivers. The focus of my argument is on whether instrument-user units are autonomous in relation to their user-parts on the List-Pettit Theory. (shrink)
In this note, I show how Christian List's modal logic of republican freedom (as published in this journal in 2006) can be extended (1) to grasp the differences between liberal freedom (noninterference) and republican freedom (non-domination) in terms of two purely logical axioms and (2) to cover a more recent definition of republican freedom in terms of `arbitrary interference' that gains popularity in the literature.
Hospital waiting lists are a feature ofpublicly funded health services that resultswhen demand appears to exceed supply. Whilemuch has been written about hospital waitinglists, little is known about the dynamics ofdiagnostic waiting lists, or more generally whyhospital waiting lists behave in perverse andoften counter-intuitive ways. This paperattempts to address this gap by applying arecent development in critical systems thinkingcalled boundary critique to understand how aparticular ultrasound waiting list was managed.A new waiting list metaphor based on waitinglists as ritual (...) forms is proposed. (shrink)
A questionnaire probing the distribution of authorship credit was given to postdoctoral associates (“postdocs”) in order to determine their awareness of the professional society’s ethical statement on authorship, the extent of communication with their supervisors about authorship criteria, and the appropriateness of authorship assignments on submitted papers. Results indicate a low awareness of the professional society’s ethical statement and that little communication takes place between postdocs and supervisors about authorship criteria. A substantial amount of authorship credit given to supervisors and (...) other workers is perceived by the postdocs to violate the professional society’s ethical statement. (shrink)