This chapter argues that in cases in which a (non-institutional) group is collective causally responsible and collectively morally responsible for some harm which is either (i) brought about intentionally or (ii) foreseen as the side effect of something brought about intentionally or (iii) unforeseen but a nonaggregative harm, each member of the group is equally and fully responsible for the harm as if he or she had done it alone.
This paper discusses Raimo Tuomela's we-mode account in his recent book "Social Ontology: Collective Intentionality and Group Agents" and develops the idea that mode should be thought of as representational. I argue that in any posture – intentional state or speech act – we do not merely represent a state of affairs as what we believe, or intend etc. – as the received view of 'propositional attitudes' has it –, but our position relative to that state of affairs and (...) thus ourselves. That is, we represent the subject through what I call "subject mode" and its position through what I call "position mode". I argue that the key to understanding collective intentionality is to understand how we represent others as co-subjects of positions rather than as their objects. This is shown on various levels of collective intentionality. On the non-conceptual level of joint attention we experience others as co-subjects who we attend with rather than to and who we are at least also disposed to act jointly with. On the conceptual level of the we-mode we represent others as co-subjects of positions of knowledge, intention, belief and shared values. Organizations and thus group agents in Tuomela's sense I propose to understand in terms of what I call "role mode", that is, in terms of the positions individuals and groups take as occupants of certain roles, for example, as committee members, or as chancellor of Germany. I try to show how this account, while very much in the spirit of Tuomela's, can avoid his fictionalism about group agents and some other problems of his account, while steering between the Scylla of excessive individualism and the Charybdis of extreme collectivism. (shrink)
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, 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)
In this paper I discuss a number of different relationships between two kinds of 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)
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.
It is commonplace to attribute obligations to φ or blameworthiness for φ-ing to groups even when no member has an obligation to φ or is individually blameworthy for not φ-ing. Such non-distributive attributions can seem problematic in cases where the group is not a moral agent in its own right. In response, it has been argued both that non-agential groups can have the capabilities requisite to have obligations of their own, and that group obligations can be understood in terms of (...) moral demands on individual group members. It has also been suggested that members of groups can share responsibility for an outcome in virtue of being causally or socially connected to that outcome. This paper discusses the agency problem and argues that the most promising attempts at solutions understand group obligations and blameworthiness as grounded in demands on individual agents. (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)
Republicans hold that people are dominated merely in virtue of others' having unconstrained abilities to frustrate their choices. They argue further that public officials may dominate citizens unless subject to popular control. Critics identify a dilemma. To maintain the possibility of popular control, republicans must attribute to the people an ability to control public officials merely in virtue of the possibility that they might coordinate their actions. But if the possibility of coordination suffices for attributing abilities to groups, then, even (...) in the best case, countless groups will be dominating because it will be possible for their members to coordinate their actions with the aim of frustrating others' choices. We argue the dilemma is apparent only. To make our argument, we present a novel interpretation of the republican concept of domination with the help of a game-theoretic model that clarifies the significance of collective action problems for republican theory. (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 attempts to provide a remedy to a surprising lacuna in the current discussion in the epistemology of expertise, namely the lack of a theory accounting for the epistemic authority of collective agents. After introducing a service conception of epistemic authority based on Alvin Goldman’s account of a cognitive expert, I argue that this service conception is well suited to account for the epistemic authority of collective bodies on a non-summativist perspective, and I show in detail how (...) the defining requirements of an expert can apply to epistemic groups. (shrink)
We can often achieve together what we could not have achieved on our own. Many times these outcomes and actions will be morally valuable; sometimes they may be of substantial moral value. However, when can we be under an obligation to perform some morally valuable action together with others, or to jointly produce a morally significant outcome? Can there be collective moral obligations, and if so, under what circumstances do we acquire them? These are questions to which philosophers are (...) increasingly turning their attention. It is fair to say that traditional ethical theories cannot give a satisfying answer to the questions, focusing as they do on the actions and attitudes of discreet individual agents. It should also be noted that the debate surrounding collective moral obligations is ongoing and by no means settled. This chapter discusses and compares the different attempts to date to answer the above questions. It proposes a set of meta-criteria—or desiderata— for arbitrating between the various proposals. (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.
A collective duty gap arises when a group has caused harm that requires remedying but no member did harm that can justify the imposition of individual remedial duties. Examples range from airplane 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 with regard to ends. Along the way, I argue that gap-filling duties must be conceptualized differently in group agents, as compared to non-agent groups: in the former, gap-filling duties can be understood as duties to “take up the slack”; in the latter, this would be a category error. (shrink)
Together we can achieve things that we could never do on our own. In fact, there are sheer endless opportunities for producing morally desirable outcomes together with others. Unsurprisingly, scholars have been finding the idea of collective moral obligations intriguing. Yet, there is little agreement among scholars on the nature of such obligations and on the extent to which their existence might force us to adjust existing theories of moral obligation. What interests me in this paper is the perspective (...) of the moral deliberating agent who faces a collective action problem, i.e. the type of reasoning she employs when deciding how to act. I hope to show that agents have collective obligations precisely when they are required to employ ‘we-reasoning’, a type of reasoning that differs from I-mode, best response reasoning, as I shall explain below. More precisely, two (or more) individual agents have a collective moral obligation to do x if x is an option for action that is only collectively available (more on that later) and each has sufficient reason to rank x highest out of the options available to them. (shrink)
Taken collectively, consumer food choices have a major impact on animal lives, human lives, and the environment. But it is far from clear how to move from facts about the power of collective consumer demand to conclusions about what one ought to do as an individual consumer. In particular, even if a large-scale shift in demand away from a certain product (e.g., factory-farmed meat) would prevent grave harms or injustices, it typically does not seem that it will make a (...) difference whether one refrains from purchasing that product oneself. Most present-day food companies operate at too large a scale for a single purchase to make a difference to production decisions. If that is true, then it is not clear what point there is in refraining. This is “the problem of collective impact.” This chapter explores a range of proposals for how to solve this problem. (shrink)
Psychologists and philosophers have not yet resolved what they take implicit attitudes to be; and, some, concerned about limitations in the psychometric evidence, have even challenged the predictive and theoretical value of positing implicit attitudes in explanations for social behavior. In the midst of this debate, prominent stakeholders in science have called for scientific communities to recognize and countenance implicit bias in STEM fields. In this paper, I stake out a stakeholder conception of implicit bias that responds to these challenges (...) in ways that are responsive to the psychometric evidence, while also being resilient to the sorts of disagreements and scientific progress that would not undermine the soundness of this call. Along the way, my account advocates for attributing collective (group-level) implicit attitudes rather than individual-level implicit attitudes. This position raises new puzzles for future research on the relationship (metaphysical, epistemic, and ethical) between collective implicit attitudes and individual-level attitudes. (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)
The topic of my thesis is individual and collective responsibility for collectively caused systemic harms, with climate change as the case study. Can an individual be responsible for these harms, and if so, how? Furthermore, what does it mean to say that a collective is responsible? A related question, and the second main theme, is how ignorance and knowledge affect our responsibility. -/- My aim is to show that despite the various complexities involved, an individual can have responsibility (...) to address climate change. I argue that climate change is not a problem just for states and international bodies, but also for individuals. There are three possible sources of moral responsibility for individuals in relation to climate change harms: direct responsibility (individuals qua individuals), shared responsibility as members (individuals qua members of collective agents), and shared responsibility as constituents (individuals qua constituents of unorganised collectives). -/- Accounts that deny individual responsibility fail to either take our interdependent reality seriously or fail to understand marginal participation (or in the case direct responsibility, fail to appreciate the nature of the climate change phenomenon). Individuals can be complicit in climate change harms, either as members of collective agents (e.g. as citizens of states or employees of a corporation) or as constituents of unorganised collectives (e.g. as consumers or polluters). -/- Although I focus on individual complicity, I do not deny the obligations of collective agents. However, nation-states, governments, and international bodies are not the only relevant collective agents in climate ethics: other collective agents, such as corporations, matter also and can have obligations concerning making sure that their activities are as carbon-neutral as possible. In addition, those corporations that have engaged in lobbying against climate regulation through creating and disseminating misleading information have acquired themselves additional obligations to mitigate climate change and compensate for the harm they have caused. Even so, the ethical claims can only be understood by individual members of these collective agents because only they can feel the pull of moral claims. I suggest that we could distinguish between what one must possess in order to be capable of making moral claims (i.e. moral agency conditions), and what it means to have the ability to exhibit such claims through one’s conduct. -/- Individual direct responsibility is to not to increase the probable risk of serious harm to other people, at least as long as we can do so at a less than significant cost to ourselves. It is limited to relatively wealthy individuals. Offsetting is not a reliable way to meet this duty; we need to look at the emissions from our lifestyle choices (within the available infrastructure). Shared responsibility qua members of collective agents is the key individual responsibility, and it presses especially on those occupying key positions within key collective agents. Saying that, our shared responsibility qua constituents of unorganised collectives has the potential to be decisive in whether some action is taken or not, either through a set of actions that can signal certain acceptance or support, or as a form of political support from the grass roots. (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)
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)
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)
Individualists claim that collective obligations are reducible to the individual obligations of the collective’s members. Collectivists deny this. We set out to discover who is right by way of a deontic logic of collective action that models collective actions, abilities, obligations, and their interrelations. On the basis of our formal analysis, we argue that when assessing the obligations of an individual agent, we need to distinguish individual obligations from member obligations. If a collective has a (...)collective obligation to bring about a particular state of affairs, then it might be that no individual in the collective has an individual obligation to bring about that state of affairs. What follows from a collective obligation is that each member of the collective has a member obligation to help ensure that the collective fulfills its collective obligation. In conclusion, we argue that our formal analysis supports collectivism. (shrink)
This paper explores types of organisational ignorance and ways in which organisational practices can affect the knowledge we have about the causes and effects of our actions. I will argue that because knowledge and information are not evenly distributed within an organisation, sometimes organisational design alone can create individual ignorance. I will also show that sometimes the act that creates conditions for culpable ignorance takes place at the collective level. This suggests that quality of will of an agent is (...) not necessary to explain culpable ignorance in an organisational setting. (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)
Bringing research on collective memory together with research on episodic future thought, Szpunar and Szpunar :376–389, 2016) have recently developed the concept of collective future thought. Individual memory and individual future thought are increasingly seen as two forms of individual mental time travel, and it is natural to see collective memory and collective future thought as forms of collective mental time travel. But how seriously should the notion of collective mental time travel be taken? (...) This article argues that, while collective mental time travel is disanalogous in important respects to individual mental time travel, the concept of collective mental time travel nevertheless provides a useful means of organizing existing findings, while also suggesting promising directions for future research. (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)
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)
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)
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 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)
Communities often respond to traumatic events in their histories by destroying objects that would cue memories of a past they wish to forget and by building artefacts which memorialize a new version of their history. Hence, it would seem, communities cope with change by spreading memory ignorance so to allow new memories to take root. This chapter offers an account of some aspects of this phenomenon and of its epistemological consequences. Specifically, it is demonstrated in this chapter that collective (...) forgetfulness is harmful. Here, the focus is exclusively on the harms caused by its contribution to undermining the intellectual self-trust of some members of the community. Further, since some of these harms are also wrongs, collective amnesia contributes to causing epistemic injustices. (shrink)
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)
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)
Evil is a poorly understood phenomenon. In this provocative 2005 book, Professor Vetlesen argues that to do evil is to intentionally inflict pain on another human being, against his or her will, and causing serious and foreseeable harm. Vetlesen investigates why and in what sort of circumstances such a desire arises, and how it is channeled, or exploited, into collective evildoing. He argues that such evildoing, pitting whole groups against each other, springs from a combination of character, situation, and (...) social structure. By combining a philosophical approach inspired by Hannah Arendt, a psychological approach inspired by C. Fred Alford and a sociological approach inspired by Zygmunt Bauman, and bringing these to bear on the Holocaust and ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, Vetlesen shows how closely perpetrators, victims, and bystanders interact, and how aspects of human agency are recognized, denied, and projected by different agents. (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.
Thomas Pogge has argued, famously, that ‘we’ are violating the rights of the global poor insofar as we uphold an unjust international order which provides a legal and economic framework within which individuals and groups can and do deprive such individuals of their lives, liberty and property. I argue here that Pogge’s claim that we are violating a negative duty can only be made good on the basis of a substantive theory of collective action; and that it can only (...) provide substantive ethical guidance when combined with an account of how collective action gives rise to forward-looking responsibility and/or accountability on an individual level. I consider accounts of these two topics given in work by Peter French and Christopher Kutz; and I argue that neither of them give Pogge what he needs. Although there is a sense in which 'we' can be said to be violating the rights of the worst off, the sense in which this is true does not generate any plausible action-guiding claims for individuals. (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)
Kirk Ludwig develops a novel reductive account of plural discourse about collective action and shared intention. Part I develops the event analysis of action sentences, provides an account of the content of individual intentions, and on that basis an analysis of individual intentional action. Part II shows how to extend the account to collective action, intentional and unintentional, and shared intention, expressed in sentences with plural subjects. On the account developed, collective action is a matter of there (...) being multiple agents of an event and it requires no group agents per se. Shared intention is a matter of agents in a group each intending that they bring about some end in accordance with a shared plan. Thus their participatory intentions differ from individual intentions not in their mode but in their content. Joint intentional action then is a matter of a group of individuals successfully executing a shared intention. (shrink)
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)
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)
A computer simulation is used to study collective judgements that an expert panel reaches on the basis of qualitative probability judgements contributed by individual members. The simulated panel displays a strong and robust crowd wisdom effect. The panel's performance is better when members contribute precise probability estimates instead of qualitative judgements, but not by much. Surprisingly, it doesn't always hurt for panel members to interpret the probability expressions differently. Indeed, coordinating their understandings can be much worse.
According to we-mode accounts of collective intentionality, an experience is a "we-experience"—that is, part of a jointly attentional episode—in virtue of the way or mode in which the content of the experience is given to the subject of experience. These accounts are supposed to explain how a we-experience can have the phenomenal character of being given to the subject "as ours" rather than merely "as my experience" (Zahavi 2015), and do so in a relatively conceptually and cognitively undemanding way. (...) Galotti and Frith (2013) and Schmitz (2017) present we-mode accounts that are supposed to, in particular, avoid the need for the subjects of experience to have common knowledge of each other’s perceptual beliefs. In this paper, drawing in part on Schutz’s (1932/1967; 1953) writings on "the pure We-relationship", I argue that appeal to a we-mode does not render common knowledge unnecessary. To explain when we-experiences are veridical, we-mode accounts must (i) explain how a we-experience can enable rational interpersonal coordination in some high-risk situations and (ii) explain why what is experienced is "out in the open" between the subjects of the we-experience. To do this, proponents of we-mode accounts need an account of common knowledge. In addition, they must explain why certain inferences hold between we-mode and I-mode attitudes. In light of this, we-mode accounts fare no better than content accounts in illuminating how basic forms of collective intentionality are possible. (shrink)
In this chapter, we focus on collective action and intention, and their relation to conventions, status functions, norms, institutions, and shared attitudes more generally. Collective action and shared intention play a foundational role in our understanding of the social. -/- The three central questions in the study of collective intentionality are: -/- (1) What is the ontology of collective intentionality? In particular, are groups per se intentional agents, as opposed to just their individual members? (2) What (...) is the psychology of collective intentionality? Do groups per se have psychological states, in particular propositional attitudes? What is the psychology of the individuals who participate in collective intentional behavior? What is special about their participatory intentions, their we-intentions, as they are called (Tuomela and Miller 1988), as opposed to their I-intentions? (3) How is collective intentionality implicated in the construction of social reality? In particular, how does the content of we-intentions and the intentional activity of individual agents create social institutions, practices and structures? -/- We first discuss collective action and shared intention in informal groups. Next we discuss mechanisms for constructing institutional structures out of the conceptual and psychological resources made available by our understanding of informal joint intentional action. Then we extend the discussion of collective action and intention to institutional groups, such as the Supreme Court, and explain how concepts of such organizations are constructed out of the concepts of a rule, convention, and status function. Finally we discuss collective attitudes beyond intention. (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)
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)