What is the ontology of collective action? I have in mind three connected questions. 1. Do the truth conditions of action sentences about groups require there to be group agents over and above individual agents? 2. Is there a difference, in this connection, between action sentences about informal groups that use plural noun phrases, such as ‘We pushed the car’ and ‘The women left the party early’, and action sentences about formal or institutional groups that use singular noun phrases, (...) such as ‘The United States declared war on Japan on December 8th, 1941’ and ‘The Supreme Court ruled that segregation is unconstitutional in 1954 in Brown vs. Board of Education’? 3. Under what conditions does it make sense to speak of a group doing something together, and what, if anything, is a collective action? In this paper, In the following, I argue that a) understanding action sentences about groups does not commit us to the existence of group agents per se, but only to the existence of individual agents; b) there is no difference in this regard between sentences which attribute actions to informal groups on the one hand and institutional groups on the other; c) collective action can be both intentional and unintentional; d) any random group of agents each of whom does something is also a group which does something together; e) while there is a sense in which groups per se perform no primitive collective actions, and therefore no actions at all, f) there is a sensible extension of talk of actions to groups, though it should be treated strictly speaking, like talk of group agents, as a façon de parler, for g) the only agents per se are individuals and the only actions are theirs. -/-. (shrink)
Whether collective agency is a coherent concept depends on the theory of agency that we choose to adopt. We argue that the enactive theory of agency developed by Barandiaran, Di Paolo and Rohde (2009) provides a principled way of grounding agency in biological organisms. However the importance of biological embodiment for the enactive approach might lead one to be skeptical as to whether artificial systems or collectives of individuals could instantiate genuine agency. To explore this issue we contrast the (...) concept of collective agency with multi-agent systems and multi-system agents, and argue that genuinely collective agents instantiate agency at both the collective level and at the level of the component parts. Developing the enactive model, we propose understanding agency – both at the level of the individual and of the collective – as spectra that are constituted by dimensions that vary across time. Finally, we consider whether collectives that are not merely metaphorically ‘agents’ but rather are genuinely agentive also instantiate subjectivity at the collective level. We propose that investigations using the perceptual crossing paradigm suggest that a shared lived perspective can indeed emerge but this should not be conflated with a collective first-person perspective, for which material integration in a living body may be required. (shrink)
Can collectives be wise? The thesis that they can has recently received a lot of attention. It has been argued that, in many judgmental or decision-making tasks, suitably organized groups can outperform their individual members. In this paper, I discuss the lessons we can learn about collective wisdom from the emerging theory of judgment aggregation, as distinct from the literature on Condorcet’s jury theorem.
Many contemporary forms of oppression are not primarily the result of formally organized collective action nor are they an unintended outcome of a combination of individual actions. This raises the question of collective responsibility. I argue that we can only determine who is responsible for oppression if we understand oppression as a matter of social practices that create obstacles for social change. This social practice view of oppression enables two insights: First, that there is an unproblematic sense in (...) which groups can bear irreducible collective responsibility for oppression. Second, that there are derived forms of individual responsibility for members of dominant groups. (shrink)
In the literature of collective intentions, the ‘we-intentions’ that lie behind cooperative actions are analysed in terms of individual mental states. The core forms of these analyses imply that all Nash equilibrium behaviour is the result of collective intentions, even though not all Nash equilibria are cooperative actions. Unsatisfactorily, the latter cases have to be excluded either by stipulation or by the addition of further, problematic conditions. We contend that the cooperative aspect of collective intentions is not (...) a property of the intentions themselves, but of the mode of reasoning by which they are formed. We analyse collective intentions as the outcome of team reasoning, a mode of practical reasoning used by individuals as members of groups. We describe this mode of reasoning in terms of formal schemata, discuss a range of possible accounts of group agency, and show how existing theories of collective intentions fit into this framework. (shrink)
I argue that scientific knowledge is collective knowledge, in a sense to be specified and defended. I first consider some existing proposals for construing collective knowledge and argue that they are unsatisfactory, at least for scientific knowledge as we encounter it in actual scientific practice. Then I introduce an alternative conception of collective knowledge, on which knowledge is collective if there is a strong form of mutual epistemic dependence among scientists, which makes it so that satisfaction (...) of the justification condition on knowledge ineliminably requires a collective. Next, I show how features of contemporary science support the conclusion that scientific knowledge is collective knowledge in this sense. Finally, I consider implications of my proposal and defend it against objections. (shrink)
This paper defends the claim that collective responsibility can be based on group membership. It argues that collective responsibility is best understood in terms of duties to respond to the victims of collective crimes. Reasonable fear on the part of the victimized groups creates duties to respond for members of the perpetrating group. This account does a better job of capturing our intuitions about actual cases and the phenomenology of collective responsibility than other accounts currently on (...) offer. It also offers us a justification of collective responsibility judgments that is compatible with the separateness of persons. (shrink)
This essay argues that while the notion of collective responsibiility is incoherent if it is taken to be an application of the Kantian model of moral responsibility to groups, it is coherent -- and important -- if formulated in terms of the moral reactions that we can have to groups that cause harm in the world. I formulate collective responsibility as such and in doing so refocus attention from intentionality to the production of harm.
This paper offers an analysis of the logical form of plural action sentences that shows that collective actions so ascribed are a matter of all members of a group contributing to bringing some event about. It then uses this as the basis for a reductive account of the content of we-intentions according to which what distinguishes we-intentions from I-intentions is that we-intentions are directed about bringing it about that members of a group act in accordance with a shared plan.
In recent years, collective agency and responsibility have received a great deal of attention. One exciting development concerns whether collective, non-distributive responsibility can be assigned to collective non-agents, such as crowds and nation-states. I focus on an underappreciated aspect of these arguments—namely, that they sometimes derive substantive ontological conclusions about the nature of collective agents from these responsibility attributions. I argue that this order of inference, whose form I represent in what I call the Spaghetti Western (...) Argument, largely fails, even if the cases described are all too common. I show that it does not generate a generalizable, reliable conclusion about the kind of entity that is the plausibly responsible party. In particular, a group may lack agency in a given instance, be non-distributively responsible in that same instance and yet be a collective agent across time. (shrink)
Margaret Gilbert explores the phenomenon referred to in everyday ascriptions of beliefs to groups. She refers to this type of phenomenon as "collective belief" and calls the types of groups that are the bearers of such beliefs "plural subjects". I argue that the attitudes that groups adopt that Gilbert refers to as "collective beliefs" are not a species of belief in an important and central sense, but rather a species of acceptance. Unlike proper beliefs, a collective belief (...) is adopted by a group as a means to realizing the group's goals. Unless we recognize that this phenomenon is a species of acceptance, plural subjects will seem prone to change their "beliefs" for irrelevant reasons, and thus frequently appear to act in an irrational manner. (shrink)
Recently, an increasing body of work from sociology, social psychology, and social ontology has been devoted to collective emotions. Rather curiously, however, pressing epistemological and especially normative issues have received almost no attention. In particular, there has been a strange silence on whether one can share emotions with individuals or groups who are not aware of such sharing, or how one may identify this, and eventually identify specific norms of emotional sharing. In this paper, I shall address this set (...) of issues head-on. I will do so by drawing on one of the most elaborate, but rather neglected phenomenological accounts of sociality, namely Edith Stein’s work on communal experiences and her theory of empathy. I wish to show that a suitably amended Steinian account affords us with an intriguing alternative to both phenomenalist and normativist construals of collective emotions. Moreover, I shall argue that it provides a more fine-grained account of the different types of emotional sharing than standard accounts, ranging from face-to-face, or shared, to more robust but less direct, or collective, emotions. Finally, I will propose a tentative answer to the above questions by pointing to non-dyadic or collective forms of empathy. (shrink)
This paper argues that group attitudes can be assessed in terms of standards of rationality and that group-level rationality need not be due to individual-level rationality. But it also argues that groups cannot be collective epistemic agents and are not collectively responsible for collective irrationality. I show that we do not need the concept of collective epistemic agency to explain how group-level irrationality can arise. Group-level irrationality arises because even rational individuals can fail to reason about how (...) their attitudes will combine with those of others. In some cases they are morally responsible for this failure, in others they are not. Moreover, the argument for collective epistemic agency is incoherent because reasons-for-groups are ipso facto reasons-for-individual. Instead of talking about reasons-for-groups, we should therefore distinguish between self-regarding reasons and group-regarding reasons. Both kinds of reasons are reasons-for-individuals. These conceptual considerations in favour of moderate individualism are strengthened by an analysis of our moral practice of responding to collective shortfalls of rationality and by the unpalatable moral implications of collectivism about epistemic agency. There is no need to change the subject. Groups can be rational or irrational, but they do not reason. (shrink)
Among other things, this paper considers what so-called collective guilt feelings amount to. If collective guilt feelings are sometimes appropriate, it must be the case that collectives can indeed be guilty. The paper begins with an account of what it is for a collective to intend to do something and to act in light of that intention. An account of collective guilt in terms of membership guilt feelings is found wanting. Finally, a "plural subject" account of (...)collective guilt feelings is articulated, such that they involve a joint commitment to feel guilt as a body. (shrink)
A collective duty gap arises when a group has caused harm that requires remedying, but no (or not enough) member(s) did harm that can justify the imposition of individual remedial duties. Examples range from aeroplane crashes to climate change. How might collective duty gaps be filled? This paper starts by examining two promising proposals for filling them. Both proposals are found inadequate. Thus, while gap-filling duties can be defended against objections from unfairness and demandingness, we need a substantive (...) justification for their existence. I argue that substantive justification can be found in the normative force of commitments individuals make, to others, to ends. Along the way, I argue that gap-filling duties must be conceptualised differently in group agents, as compared with non-agent groups: in former, gap-filling duties can be understood as duties to ‘take up the slack’; in the latter, this would be a category error. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss a number of different relationships between two kinds of (moral) obligation: those which have individuals as their subject, and those which have groups of individuals as their subject. I use the name collective obligations to refer to obligations of the second sort. I argue that there are collective obligations, in this sense; that such obligations can give rise to and explain obligations which fall on individuals; that because of these facts collective obligations (...) are not simply reducible to individual obligations; and that collective obligations supervene on individual obligations, without being reducible to them. The sort of supervenience I have in mind here is what is sometimes called ‘global supervenience’. In other words, there cannot be two worlds which differ in respect of the collective obligations which exist in them without also differing in respect of the individual obligations which exist in them. (shrink)
In the context of the growing popularity of the ethical consumer movement and the appearance of different types of ethical collective communities, the current article explores the meanings drawn from the participation in Responsible Consumption Cooperatives. In existing research, the overriding focus has been on examining individual ethical consumer behaviour at the expense of advancing our understanding of how ethical consumers behave collectively. Hence, this article examines the meanings derived from participating in ethical consumer groups. A qualitative multi-method approach (...) is adopted to increase the validity of findings. This includes focus groups, in-depth interviews, observation and document analysis. Results show that ethical consumption in a group project offers a greater sense of effectiveness and control when compared to individual actions. Furthermore, these groups facilitate the creation of a social circle and encourage new learning as a result of the social interaction that takes place in the ethical community of the cooperative. (shrink)
In everyday language, we readily attribute experiences to groups. For example, 1 might say, “Spain celebrated winning the European Cup” or “The uncovering of corruption caused the union to think long and hard about its internal structure.” In each case, the attribution makes sense. However, it is quite difficult to give a nonreductive account of precisely what these statements mean because in each case a mental state is ascribed to a group, and it is not obvious that groups can have (...) mental states. In this article, I do not offer an explicit theory of collective experience. Instead, I draw on phenomenological analyses and empirical data in order to provide general conditions that a more specific theory of collective experience must meet in order to be coherent. (shrink)
When confronted with especially complex ecological and social problems such as climate change, how are we to think about responsibility for collective inaction? Social and political philosophers have begun to consider the complexities of acting collectively with a view to creating more just and sustainable societies. Some have recently turned their attention to the question of whether more or less formally organized groups can ever be held morally responsible for not acting collectively, or else for not organizing themselves into (...) groups capable of so doing. In this paper I argue that several questionable assumptions have shaped the character and scope of inquiry to this point, precluding us from grappling with a range of important questions concerning the epistemic dimensions of collective inaction. I offer an overview of recent conversation concerning collective inaction, advance a critique of the picture of responsibility that has emerged from this conversation, and propose an alternative approach to th... (shrink)
As it is indicated in the title, this paper is devoted to the problem of defining mereological (collective) sets. Starting from basic properties of sets in mathematics and differences between them and so called conglomerates in Section 1, we go on to explicate informally in Section 2 what it means to join many objects into a single entity from point of view of mereology, the theory of part of (parthood) relation. In Section 3 we present and motivate basic axioms (...) for part of relation and we point to their most fundamental consequences. Next three sections are devoted to formal explication of the notion of mereological set (collective set) in terms of sums, fusions and aggregates. We do not give proofs of all theorems. Some of them are complicated and their presentation would divert the reader’s attention from the main topic of the paper. In such cases we indicate where the proofs can be found and analyzed by those who are interested. (shrink)
Two arguments apparently support the thesis that collective identity presupposes an Other: the recognition argument, according to which seeing myself as a self requires recognition by an other whom I also recognize as a self (Hegel); and the dialogic argument, according to which my sense of self can only develop dialogically (Taylor). But applying these arguments to collective identity involves a compositional fallacy. Two modern ideologies mask the particularist thesis’s falsehood. The ideology of indivisible state sovereignty makes sovereignty (...) as such appear particularistic by fusing “internal” with “external” sovereignty; nationalism imagines national identity as particularistic by linking it to sovereignty. But the concatenation of internal sovereignty, external sovereignty, and nation is contingent. Schmitt’s thesis that “the political” presupposes an other conflates internal and external sovereignty, while Mouffe’s neo-Schmittianism conflates difference (Derrida) with alterity. A shared global identity may face many obstacles, but metaphysical impossibility and conceptual confusion are not among them. (shrink)
This paper offers a comparison of three different kinds of collective attitudes: aggregate, common, and corporate attitudes. They differ not only in their relationship to individual attitudes—e.g., whether they are “reducible” to individual attitudes—but also in the roles they play in relation to the collectives to which they are ascribed. The failure to distinguish them can lead to confusion, in informal talk as well as in the social sciences. So, the paper’s message is an appeal for disambiguation.
Two lines of investigation into the nature of mental content have proceeded in parallel until now. The first looks at thoughts that are attributable to collectives, such as bands' beliefs and teams' desires. So far, philosophers who have written on collective belief, collective intentionality, etc. have primarily focused on third-personal attributions of thoughts to collectives. The second looks at de se, or self-locating, thoughts, such as beliefs and desires that are essentially about oneself. So far, philosophers who have (...) written on the de se have primarily focused on de se thoughts of individuals. This paper looks at where these two lines of investigations intersect: collective de se thoughts, such as bands' and teams' beliefs and desires that are essentially about themselves. There is a surprising problem at this intersection: the most prominent framework for modeling de se thoughts, the framework of centered worlds, cannot model a special class of collective de se thoughts. A brief survey of this problem's solution space shows that collective de se thoughts pose a new challenge for modeling mental content. (shrink)
Collective action processes in complex, multiple-use common-pool resources (CPRs) have only recently become a focus of study. When CPRs evolve into more complex systems, resource use by separate user groups becomes increasingly interdependent. This implies, amongst others, that the institutional framework governing resource use has to be re-negotiated to avoid adverse impacts associated with the increased access of any new stakeholders, such as overexploitation, alienation of traditional users, and inter-user conflicts. The establishment of “platforms for resource use negotiation” is (...) a way of dealing with complex natural resource management problems. Platforms arise when stakeholders perceive the same resource management problem, realize their interdependence in solving it, and come together to agree on action strategies for solving the problem (Röling, 1994). This article sets the scene for a discussion in this Special Issue about the potential of nested platforms for resource use negotiation in facilitating collective action in the management of complex, multiple-use CPRs. The article has five objectives. First, we define “collective action” in the context of this paper. Second, we discuss the importance of collective action in multiple-use CPRs. Third, we introduce the concept of platforms to coordinate collective action by multiple users. Fourth, we address some issues that emerge from evidence in the field regarding the role and potential of nested platforms for managing complex CPRs. Finally, we raise five discussion statements. These will form the basis for the collection of articles in this special issue. (shrink)
Our digital society increasingly relies in the power of others’ aggregated judgments to make decisions. Questions as diverse as which film we will watch, what scientific news we will decide to read, which path we will follow to find a place, or what political candidate we will vote for are usually associated to a rating that influences our final decisions.
This paper is about the status of collective actions. According to one view, collective actions metaphysically reduce to individual actions because sentences about collective actions are merely a shorthand for sentences about individual actions. I reconstruct an argument for this view and show via counterexamples that it is not sound. The argument relies on a paraphrase procedure to unpack alleged shorthand sentences about collective actions into sentences about individual actions. I argue that the best paraphrase procedure (...) that has been put forward so far fails to produce adequate results. (shrink)
Many groups make decisions over multiple interconnected propositions. The “doctrinal paradox” or “discursive dilemma” shows that propositionwise majority voting can generate inconsistent collective sets of judgments, even when individual sets of judgments are all consistent. I develop a simple model for determining the probability of the paradox, given various assumptions about the probability distribution of individual sets of judgments, including impartial culture and impartial anonymous culture assumptions. I prove several convergence results, identifying when the probability of the paradox converges (...) to 1, and when it converges to 0, as the number of individuals increases. Drawing on the Condorcet jury theorem and work by Bovens and Rabinowicz , I use the model to assess the “truth-tracking” performance of two decision procedures, the premise- and conclusion-based procedures. I compare the present results with existing results on the probability of Condorcet’s paradox. I suggest that the doctrinal paradox is likely to occur under plausible conditions. (shrink)
This paper gives an account of proxy agency in the context of collective action. It takes the case of a group announcing something by way of a spokesperson as an illustration. In proxy agency, it seems that one person or subgroup's doing something counts as or constitutes or is recognized as (tantamount to) another person or group's doing something. Proxy agency is pervasive in institutional action. It has been taken to be a straightforward counterexample to an appealing deflationary view (...) of collective action as a matter of all members of a group making a contribution to bringing about some event. I show that this is a mistake. I give a deflationary account of constitutive rules in terms of essentially collective action types. I then give an account of one form of constitutive agency in terms of constitutive rules. I next give an account of status functions—of which being a spokesperson is one—that also draws on the concept of a constitutive rule. I then show how these materials help us to see how proxy agency is an expression of the agency of all members of the group credited with doing something when the proxy acts. (shrink)
Some instances of right and wrongdoing appear to be of a distinctly collective kind. When, for example, one group commits genocide against another, the genocide is collective in the sense that the wrongness of genocide seems morally distinct from the aggregation of individual murders that make up the genocide. The problem, which I refer to as the problem of collective wrongs, is that it is unclear how to assign blame for distinctly collective wrongdoing to individual contributors (...) when none of those individual contributors is guilty of the wrongdoing in question. I offer Christopher Kutz’s Complicity Principle as an attractive starting point for solving the problem, and then argue that the principle ought to be expanded to include a broader and more appropriate range of cases. The view I ultimately defend is that individuals are blameworthy for collective harms insofar as they knowingly participate in those harms, and that said individuals remain blameworthy regardless of whether they succeed in making a causal contribution to those harms. (shrink)
Mandevillian intelligence is a specific form of collective intelligence in which individual cognitive shortcomings, limitations and biases play a positive functional role in yielding various forms of collective cognitive success. When this idea is transposed to the epistemological domain, mandevillian intelligence emerges as the idea that individual forms of intellectual vice may, on occasion, support the epistemic performance of some form of multi-agent ensemble, such as a socio-epistemic system, a collective doxastic agent, or an epistemic group agent. (...) As a specific form of collective intelligence, mandevillian intelligence is relevant to a number of debates in social epistemology, especially those that seek to understand how group (or collective) knowledge arises from the interactions between a collection of individual epistemic agents. Beyond this, however, mandevillian intelligence raises issues that are relevant to the research agendas of both virtue epistemology and applied epistemology. From a virtue epistemological perspective, mandevillian intelligence encourages us to adopt a relativistic conception of intellectual vice/virtue, enabling us to see how individual forms of intellectual vice may (sometimes) be relevant to collective forms of intellectual virtue. In addition, mandevillian intelligence is relevant to the nascent sub-discipline of applied epistemology. In particular, mandevillian intelligence forces us see the potential epistemic value of (e.g., technological) interventions that create, maintain or promote individual forms of intellectual vice. (shrink)
The main concern of this paper is the moral responsibility of the firm, as well as of the individuals in a firm, to uphold environmental protection. Much of the business ethics literature defines corporate social responsibility in terms of stakeholder relationships, and the emphasis is frequently on collective as opposed to individual responsibility. This paper has three objectives. The first is to clarify the nature of moral responsibility, and the distinction between legal and moral responsibility. The second objective is (...) to steer academicians and others towards a new vision of the firm. We argue that a firm is not just a singular legal entity but also a collectivity of morally responsible individuals who are liable for immoral acts of the firm. By expanding the boundary of responsibility of action from an intangible collectivity – the firm, to all the individuals within it, this vision moves beyond the typical emphasis on the firm as being the only moral agent responsible for corporate actions. The paper emphasizes not simply the responsibility of top echelon managers, but of every employee across ranks. The third goal of this paper is to examine the circumstances where application of moral responsibility becomes crucial, for instance, in the context of protection of the natural environment by a firm and its employees. (shrink)
In this paper, we move beyond the typical focus on the role of individuals in leading social change to examine "collective social entrepreneurship", the role multiple actors collaboratively play to address social problems, create new institutions, and dismantle outdated institutional arrangements. Specifically, we examine collective social entrepreneurship across a diverse range of collaborative activities including movements, alliances and markets for social good. We identify resource utilization approaches and three associated sets of activities that illustrate the work of (...) class='Hi'>collective social entrepreneurs—framing, convening, and multivocality. Using illustrative case studies to examine the phenomenon, we highlight the capacity of collective action across sectors to create markets, institutions and organizations and, to derive success by resonating through embeddedness in broader social movements. (shrink)
Reproductive genetic technologies allow parents to decide whether their future children will have or lack certain genetic predispositions. A popular model that has been proposed for regulating access to RGTs is the ‘genetic supermarket’. In the genetic supermarket, parents are free to make decisions about which genes to select for their children with little state interference. One possible consequence of the genetic supermarket is that collective action problems will arise: if rational individuals use the genetic supermarket in isolation from (...) one another, this may have a negative effect on society as a whole, including future generations. In this article we argue that RGTs targeting height, innate immunity, and certain cognitive traits could lead to collective action problems. We then discuss whether this risk could in principle justify state intervention in the genetic supermarket. We argue that there is a plausible prima facie case for the view that such state intervention would be justified and respond to a number of arguments that might be adduced against that view. (shrink)
This article is part of a symposium on property-owning democracy. In A Theory of Justice John Rawls argued that people in a just society would have rights to some forms of personal property, whatever the best way to organise the economy. Without being explicit about it, he also seems to have believed that protection for at least some forms of privacy are included in the Basic Liberties, to which all are entitled. Thus, Rawls assumes that people are entitled to form (...) families, as well as personal associations which reflect their tastes as well as their beliefs and interests. He seems also to have assumed that people are entitled to seclude themselves, as well as to associate with others, and to keep some of their beliefs, knowledge, feelings and ideas to themselves, rather than having to share them with others. So, thinking of privacy as an amalgam of claims to seclusion, solitude, anonymity and intimate association, we can say that Rawls appears to include at least some forms of privacy in his account of the liberties protected by the first principle of justice. -/- However, Rawls did not say very much about how he understands people’s claims to privacy, or how those claims relate to his ideas about property-ownership. This is unfortunate, because two familiar objections to privacy seem particularly pertinent to his conception of the basic liberties. The first was articulated with customary panache by Judith Thomson, in a famous article on the moral right to privacy, in which she argued that talk of a moral right to privacy is confused and confusing, because privacy rights are really just property rights in disguise. The second objection has long been a staple of leftist politics, and is that the association of privacy with private property means that privacy rights are just a mask for coercive and exploitative relationships, and therefore at odds with democratic freedom, equality and solidarity. If the first objection implies that Rawls is wrong to think that protection for privacy can be distinguished from protection of personal property, the second objection implies that Rawls cannot hope to protect privacy without thereby committing himself to the grossest forms of capitalist inequality. -/- In this paper I will not discuss Rawls’ views of property-owning democracy. However, by clarifying the relationship between claims to privacy and claims to property-ownership, I hope to illuminate some of the conceptual, moral and political issues raised by Rawls’ ideas, and by work on the concept of a property-owning democracy, which he inspired. As we will see, privacy-based justifications of private ownership are not always unappealing, and privacy is sometimes promoted, rather than threatened, by collective ownership. The conclusion draws out the significance of these claims for the idea of a property-owning democracy. (shrink)
People often do things together and form groups in order to get things done that they cannot do alone. In short they form a collectivity of some kind or a group, for short. But if we consider a group on the one hand and the persons that constitute the group on the other hand, how does it happen that these persons work together and finish a common task with a common goal? In the philosophy of action this problem is often (...) solved by saying that there is a kind of collective intention that the group members have in mind and that guides their actions. Does such a collective intention really exist? In this article I’ll show that the answer is “no”. In order to substantiate my view I’ll discuss the approaches of Bratman, Gilbert and Searle on collective intention. I’ll put forward four kinds of criticism that undermine the idea of collective intention. They apply mainly to Bratman and Gilbert. First, it is basically difficult to mark off smaller groups from bigger unities. Second, most groups change in membership composition over time. Third, as a rule, on the one hand groups are internally structured and on the other hand they belong to a larger structure. It makes that generally it cannot be a collective intention that moves the actions of the members of a group. Fourth, conversely, most individual actions cannot be performed without the existence of a wider context of agents who support these actions and make them possible. My critique on Searle mainly involves that in his approach his idea of collective intention is superfluous and that he is not radical enough in his idea that collective action is based on coordinated individual intentions and actions. However, it is a good starting point for showing how collective action actually functions, especially when combined with Giddens’s structuration theory. Every agent in a group executes his or her own individual intentions, relying on what the group offers to this agent and asks from him or her. In this way individual actions of the members of a group are coordinated and it makes that the group can function and that its goals can be performed. And in this way the group is produced and reproduced by fitting individual actions together. An individual agent who belongs to a group only needs to know what s/he wants and what s/he has to do in the group, even if s/he has no knowledge of the intentions and commitments of the other members. Then he or she can do things together with others in a group without supposing that there is something like a collective intention. (shrink)
The paper discussed and analyzes collective and joint intentions of various strength. Thus there are subjectively shared collective intentions and intersubjectively shared collective intentions as well as collective intentions which are objectively and intersubjectively shared. The distinction between collective and private intentions is considered from several points of view. Especially, it is emphasized that collective intentions in the full sense are in the “we-mode”, whereas private intentions are in the “I-mode”. The paper also surveys (...) recent discussion in the literature concerning the nature of collective and joint intention and defends the author's accounts against criticisms. (shrink)
This article explores the plausibility of some intuitions and counter intuitions about the anti-corruption efforts of MDBs and international organizations leveraging the power of the private sector. Regulation of a sizable percentage of global private sector actors now falls into a new area of international governance with innovative institutions, standards, and programs. We wrestle with the role and value of private sector partnerships and available informal and formal social controls. Crafting proportional informal controls (e.g., monitoring, evaluations, and sanctions) and proper (...) incentives to cooperative games across networks are the lynchpins of successful collective action programs. Ambivalence with informal social controls or effective incentives, we argue, risks far too much deference to private sector interests. (shrink)
At the intersection of social and virtue epistemology lies the important, yet so far entirely neglected, project of articulating the social dimensions of epistemic virtues. Perhaps the most obvious way in which epistemic virtues might be social is that they may be possessed by social collectives. We often speak of groups as if they could instantiate epistemic virtues. It is tempting to think of these expressions as ascribing virtues not to the groups themselves, but to their members. Adapting Margaret Gilbert's (...) arguments against individualist accounts of collective beliefs, I show that individualist accounts of group virtues are either too weak or too strong. I then formulate a non-individualist account modeled after Gilbert's influential account of collective beliefs. A crucial disanalogy between collective traits and beliefs, I argue, makes the success of this model unlikely. I conclude with some questions with which the future work on collective epistemic virtues should engage. (shrink)
This is a review essay of Christopher Kutz's Complicity: Ethics and Law for a Collective Age, and Jonathan Bass's Stay The Hand of Vengeance: The Politics of War Crimes Tribunals. Topics addressed include the nature of collective intentions and actions, the possibility of collective guilt, the moral responsibility of individuals in the context of collective actions.
According to Wringe 2006 we have good reasons for accepting the existence of Global Collective Obligations - in other words, collective obligations which fall on the world’s population as a whole. One such reason is that the existence of such obligations provides a plausible solution a problem which is sometimes thought to arise if we think that individuals have a right to have their basic needs satisfied. However, obligations of this sort would be of little interest – either (...) theoretical or practical – if they did not give rise, either directly or indirectly, to any kinds of reasons for individuals to behave in certain ways. -/- In this paper, I shall argue that in many situations, forward-looking global obligations give rise to an obligation on individuals to work towards bringing into existence and support an institutional system which will enable their obligations to be met. My argument for this conclusion involves two steps. In the first step, I address a general question about how collective obligations can give rise to individual obligations without being reducible to them, and which obligations they give rise to. Here I give a Kant-inspired argument, based on the principles that ‘ought implies can’ and that the content of the moral law is given by reflecting on how agents should legislate in a kingdom of ends, which is designed to show that collective obligations can give rise to individual obligations. In the second step I apply this principle to the case of global forward-looking obligations. (shrink)
We consider collective quantification in natural language. For many years the common strategy in formalizing collective quantification has been to define the meanings of collective determiners, quantifying over collections, using certain type-shifting operations. These type-shifting operations, i.e., lifts, define the collective interpretations of determiners systematically from the standard meanings of quantifiers. All the lifts considered in the literature turn out to be definable in second-order logic. We argue that second-order definable quantifiers are probably not expressive enough (...) to formalize all collective quantification in natural language. (shrink)
Geoengineering is defined as the ‘deliberate and large-scale intervention in the Earth’s climatic system with the aim of reducing global warming’. The technological proposals for doing this are highly speculative. Research is at an early stage, but there is a strong consensus that technologies would, if realisable, have profound and surprising ramifications. Geoengineering would seem to be an archetype of technology as social experiment, blurring lines that separate research from deployment and scientific knowledge from technological artefacts. Looking into the experimental (...) systems of geoengineering, we can see the negotiation of what is known and unknown. The paper argues that, in renegotiating such systems, we can approach a new mode of governance—collective experimentation. This has important ramifications not just for how we imagine future geoengineering technologies, but also for how we govern geoengineering experiments currently under discussion. (shrink)
In this essay, I explore this idea of a collective consciousness. I propose that individuals can share in a collective consciousness by forming a collective subject. I begin the essay by considering and rejecting three possible pictures of collective subjectivity: the group mind, the emergent mind, and the socially embedded mind. I argue that each of these accounts fails to provide one of the following requirements for collective subjectivity: (1) plurality, (2) awareness, and (3) collectivity. (...) I then look to Edmund Husserl’s idea of ‘social subjectivities’ for a possible account, but I agree with Alfred Schutz that Husserl fails to explain how such subjectivities are constituted by the conscious acts of individuals. In an effort to provide such an explanation, I turn to a discussion of our basic capacities for social intentionality: empathy, intersubjectivity, and co-subjectivity. In the final section of the essay, I argue that individuals can form a collective subject by taking a first-person plural perspective and ‘simulating’ the consciousness of the collective that they form. This account has the required features of plurality, awareness, and collectivity. (shrink)
The paper aims to clarify and scrutinize Searle"s somewhat puzzling statement that collective intentionality is a biologically primitive phenomenon. It is argued that the statement is not only meant to bring out that "collective intentionality" is not further analyzable in terms of individual intentionality. It also is meant to convey that we have a biologically evolved innate capacity for collective intentionality.The paper points out that Searle"s dedication to a strong notion of collective intentionality considerably delimits the (...) scope of his endeavor. Furthermore, evolutionary theory does not vindicate that an innate capacity for collective intentionality is a necessary precondition for cooperative behavior. 1. (shrink)
In this paper I develop an account of member obligation: the obligations that fall on the members of an obligated collective in virtue of that collective obligation. I use this account to argue that unorganized collections of individuals can constitute obligated agents. I argue first that, to know when a collective obligation entails obligations on that collective’s members, we have to know not just what it would take for each member to do their part in satisfying (...) the collective obligation, but also what they should do if they cannot do their part because others will not do theirs. I go on to argue (contra recent proposals) that it is not good enough for members in this situation to reasonably believe that others will not do their part. Rather, for a member of an obligated collective to permissibly escape doing her part in a collective obligation, she must both reasonably doubt that others will do their part and stand ready to act in case others do as well. -/- This necessary condition for collective obligation points the way to plausible sufficient conditions – conditions that, I argue, allow unstructured collectives to bear obligations. For (a) if a collective’s members are individually obligated to be ready to do their part, in a given collective action, and (b) if that individual readiness makes it sufficiently likely that the collective will in fact act, then it is hard to see what could block an attribution of collective obligation. In particular, in that case there ought to be no additional objection that there is no existing, organized “agent” on which the obligation might fall. For agents are, simply, things that can act. To be able to act is just to be able to succeed by trying. Unstructured collectives try to do something, I argue, when each member acts on their willingness to do their part in that thing if others do theirs; sometimes they succeed, producing a collective action. Some unstructured collectives, therefore, can succeed by trying; therefore, they can act; therefore they are agents. (shrink)
Building on Peter French’s important work, this chapter draws three distinctions that arise in the context of attributions of moral responsibility, understood as the extent to which an agent is blameworthy or praiseworthy. First, the subject of an attribution of responsibility may be an individual agent or a collective agent. Second, the object of the responsibility attribution may be an individual action (or consequence) or a collective action (or consequence). The third distinction concerns the temporal dimension of the (...) responsibility attribution. Sometimes responsibility for an action is attributed to an agent at the time of the action. At other times responsibility for an action is attributed to an agent sometime after the action has taken place. Taken together, these three binary distinctions yield eight types of responsibility attribution. It is argued that a collective agent’s responsibility for a past collective act is properly understood on the same theoretical model as is an individual’s responsibility for a past individual act. While most assume that responsibility over time is a straightforward matter of identity over time, it is argued that instead this is a matter of psychological or attitudinal connectedness. The possibility is considered that this relation also grounds attributions involving an asymmetry between subject and object, such as individual responsibility for past collective action, but a skeptical worry is raised that such attributions entail an unpalatable form of moral luck and should therefore be rejected. (shrink)
The first part of the paper focuses on the current debate over the universality of human rights. After conceptually distinguishing between different types of universality, it employs Sen’s definition that the claim of a universal value is the one that people anywhere may have reason to see as valuable. When applied to human rights, this standard implies “thin” (relative, contingent) universality, which might be operationally worked-out as in Donnelly’s three-tiered scheme of concepts–conceptions–implementations. The second part is devoted to collective (...) rights, which have recently become a new topic of the human rights debate. This part provides the basis of political–philosophical justification and legal–theoretical conceptualization of collective rights, as rights directly vested in collective entities. The third part dwells on the problem of universality of collective rights. It differentiates between the three main collective entities in international law—peoples, minorities, and indigenous peoples—and investigates whether certain rights vested in these collectives might, according to Sen’s standard, acquire the status of the universal ones. After determining that some rights are, in principle, plausible candidates for such a status in international law, this paper concludes by taking notice of a number of the open issues that still need to be settled, primarily by the cooperative endeavor of international legal scholars and legal theorists. (shrink)