Just as we may ask whether, and under what conditions, a collection of objects composes a single object, we may ask whether, and under what conditions, a collection of actions composes a single action. In the material objects literature, this question is known as the "special composition question," and I take it that there is a similar question to be asked of collections of actions. I will call that question the "special composition question in action," and argue that the correct (...) answer to this question depends on a particular kind of consequence produced by the individual constituent actions. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine the manner in which analyses of the action of single agents have been pressed into service for constructing accounts of collective action. Specifically, I argue that the best analogy to collective action is a class of individual action that Carl Ginet has called 'aggregate action.' Furthermore, once we use aggregate action as a model of collective action, then we see that existing accounts of collective action have failed to accommodate an important class of (what I (...) shall call) 'unintentional collective actions.'. (shrink)
Writers on collective action are in broad agreement that in order for a group of agents to form a collective intention, the members of that group must have beliefs about the beliefs of the other members. But in spite of the fact that this so-called "interactive knowledge" is central to virtually every account of collective intention, writers on this subject have not offered a detailed account of the nature of interactive knowledge. In this paper, we argue that such an account (...) is necessary for any adequate analysis of collective intention. Furthermore, we argue that an application of Robert Aumann's theory of interactive knowledge may be used to address several puzzling features of collective intention. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Many of the things we do, we do together with other people. Think of carpooling and playing tennis. In the past two or three decades it has become increasingly popular to analyze such collective actions in terms of collective intentions. This volume brings together ten new philosophical essays that address issues such as how individuals succeed in maintaining coordination throughout the performance of a collective action, whether groups can actually believe propositions or whether they merely accept them, and what kind (...) of evidence, if any, disciplines such as cognitive science and semantics provide in support of irreducibly collective states.The theories of the Big Four of collective intentionality -- Michael Bratman, Raimo Tuomela, John Searle, and Margaret Gilbert -- and the Big Five of Social Ontology -- which in addition to the Big Four includes Philip Pettit -- play a central role in almost all of these essays. Drawing on insights from a wide range of disciplines including dynamical systems theory, economics, and psychology, the contributors develop existing theories, criticize them, or provide alternatives to them.Several essays challenge the idea that there is a straightforward dichotomy between individual and collective level rationality, and explore the interplay between these levels in order to shed new light on the alleged discontinuities between them. These contributions make abundantly clear that it is no longer an option simply to juxtapose analyses of individual and collective level phenomena and maintain that there is a discrepancy. Some go as far as arguing that on closer inspection the alleged discontinuities dissolve. (shrink)
In this paper, we offer an analysis of ‘group intentions.’ On our proposal, group intentions should be understood as a state of equilibrium among the beliefs of the members of a group. Although the discussion in this paper is non-technical, the equilibrium concept is drawn from the formal theory of interactive epistemology due to Robert Aumann. The goal of this paper is to provide an analysis of group intentions that is informed by important work in economics and formal epistemology.
We argue that conceptual analyses of collective action should be informed by game-theoretic analyses of collective action. In particular, we argue that Ariel Rubenstein’s so-called ‘Electronic Mail Game’ provides a useful model of collective action, and of the formation of collective intentions.
Raimo Tuomela has observed that collective and joint activities typically require ‘mutual belief,’ that is, beliefs about others’ beliefs. For example, in order to lift a heavy table together, you and I must believe that the other has the belief that we are to lift the table in a certain way. Different types of collective and joint activities (e.g. actions performed by small ad-hoc groups and actions performed by large, complex hierarchical organizations) seem to require different kinds of ‘mutual belief,’ (...) and thus get different analyses. In this chapter, I argue that we can bring these analyses under one explanatory strategy. This provides a level of unity that is unusual in theories of collective and joint activity. (shrink)
Philosophical theories of action have been dominated by the view that the presence of certain kinds of intentions on the part of the agent are the mark of action. Specifically, action theorists have typically based their analyses on the premise that whether something is an action depends on whether what was done was purposeful, goal-directed, or intended, and that it was brought about in some way by or done with an intention of the agent. Furthermore, action theorists have been mainly (...) concerned to analyze our most basic actions---for instance, those actions that consist in, or are brought about by, a single bodily movement of the agent. ;This dissertation is concerned with an analysis of a more complex class of action. This class includes actions that are brought about by a group of agents. For instance, when an angry mob riots or when two people lift a heavy table together, the individuals in the collective contribute their own individual actions toward a so-called 'collective action'. While collective actions typically involve two or more agents contributing their individual actions toward a 'larger' group action, actions that are comprised of a collection of actions may be authored by a single individual as well. For instance, a single individual may calculate her taxes or prepare a meal by performing a number of individual constituent actions. Actions that are brought about by collection of actions, but are the product of a single individual are here called 'aggregate actions.' ;The aim of this dissertation is two fold. First, it is to provide an extended argument that aggregate and collective action warrant the same analysis. Second, it is to propose such a unified analysis of aggregate and collective action. Specifically, this dissertation argues that the intention-based accounts of action fail to give an adequate analysis of composite action. Rather, it is proposed that the mark of a composite action depends on a certain kind of causal consequence, which is termed a 'non-additive' causal consequence. (shrink)