Egoism and altruism are unequal contenders in the explanation of human behaviour. While egoism tends to be viewed as natural and unproblematic, altruism has always been treated with suspicion, and it has often been argued that apparent cases of altruistic behaviour might really just be some special form of egoism. The reason for this is that egoism fits into our usual theoretical views of human behaviour in a way that altruism does not. This is true on the biological level, where (...) an evolutionary account seems to favour egoism, as well as on the psychological level, where an account of self-interested motivation is deeply rooted in folk psychology and in the economic model of human behaviour. While altruism has started to receive increasing support in both biological and psychological debates over the last decades, this paper focuses on yet another level, where egoism is still widely taken for granted. Philosophical egoism is the view that, on the ultimate level of intentional explanation, all action is motivated by one of the agent's desires. This view is supported by the standard notion that for a complex of behaviour to be an action, there has to be a way to account for that behaviour in terms of the agent's own pro-attitudes. Psychological altruists, it is claimed, are philosophical egoists in that they are motivated by desires that have the other's benefit rather than the agent's own for its ultimate object. This paper casts doubt on this thesis, arguing that empathetic agents act on other people's pro-attitudes in very much the same way as agents usually act on their own, and that while other-directed desires do play an important role in many cases of psychologically altruistic action, they are not necessary in explanations of some of the most basic and most pervasive types of human altruistic behaviour. The paper concludes with the claim that philosophical egoism is really a cultural value rather than a conceptual feature of action. (shrink)
It has been claimed in the literature that collective intentionality and group attitudes presuppose some “sense of ‘us’” among the participants (other labels sometimes used are “sense of community,” “communal awareness,” “shared point of view,” or “we-perspective”). While this seems plausible enough on an intuitive level, little attention has been paid so far to the question of what the nature and role of this mysterious “sense of ‘us’” might be. This paper states (and argues for) the following five claims: (1) (...) it is neither the case that the sense in question has the community (or “us”) in its content or as its object nor does the attitude in question presuppose a preexistent community (or “us”) as its subject. (2) The “sense of ‘us’” is plural pre-reflective self-awareness. (3) Plural pre-reflective self-awareness plays the same role in the constitution of a common mind that singular pre-reflective self-awareness plays in the individual mind. (4) The most important conceptions of plural subjects, collective persons, or group agents in the current literature fail to recognize the nature and role of plural self-awareness, and therefore fall short in important respects. (5) In spite of the striking similarities between the plural and the singular mind, there are important differences to consider. The authority of the singular first person point of view has no equivalent in the plural case. (shrink)
Under normal circumstances, saying that you have a thought, a belief, a desire, or an intention differs from saying that somebody (who happens to be you) has that attitude. The former statement comes with some form of first person authority and constitutes commitments that are not involved in the latter case. Speaking with first person authority, and thereby publicly committing oneself, is a practice that plays an important role in our communication and in our understanding of what it means to (...) be a person. In their Group Agency, Christian List and Philip Pettit argue that some corporations are agents with attitudes of their own, and they claim that they are persons. The question on which this paper is focused is: Can corporations (groups with attitudes and the capacity for linguistic communication) participate in this practice, that is, can they express their attitudes with first person authority, and thereby enter first person commitments? The first section of the paper gives a rough (and, I hope, ecumenical) account of some features of first person authority and commitment. The second section examines if and how this account of first person authority carries over to corporations. It is argued that the possibility for groups to express their attitudes with straightforward first person authority, and thus to enter first person commitments, are extremely limited. The third part of the paper argues that while under normal circumstances, a member’s expression of her group’s attitudes in first person plural terms does not constitute straightforward first person authority, it does come with something resembling some aspects of the first-personal commitments encountered in the singular case. (shrink)
This chapter briefly summarises work by four key figures in the phenomenological philosophy of science: Edmund Husserl; Martin Heidegger; Patrick Heelan; and Joseph J. Kockelmans. In addition, some comparison is made with well-known figures in mainstream philosophy of science, and suggestions are given for further readings in the phenomenological philosophy of science.
In the current debate on economic rationality, Amartya Sen's analysis of the structure of commitment plays a uniquely important role . However, Sen is not alone in pitting committed action against the standard model of rational behavior. Before turning to Sen's analysis in section 2 of this paper, I shall start with an observation concerning some of the other relevant accounts.
This chapter investigates the idea of collective epistemic commonality suggested by Charles Taylor's example, and contrasts it with a distributive notion of epistemic commonality. It describes a number of accounts of collective epistemic commonality, and then argues that, contrary to what Taylor suggests, conversation is not constitutive of collective epistemic commonality as such, but rather presupposes basic forms of collective epistemic commonality. Taylor's remarks indicate that understanding the consensus is insufficient as whatever proposition people rationally and openly accept in conversation. (...) It is suggested that joint attitudes are irreducible, relational, and pre-reflective, and that such attitudes are joint, in the respect that the participants are aware of themselves as a ‘we’. Highly inferential beliefs need some form of communication, and are probably really some form of joint commitment. (shrink)
In this paper it is argued that a) altruism is an inadequate label for human cooperative behavior, and b) an adequate account of cooperation has to depart from the standard economic model of human behavior by taking note of the agents' capacity to see themselves and act as team-members. Contrary to what Fehr et al. seem to think, the main problem of the conceptual limitations of the standard model is not so much the assumption of sel shness but rather the (...) atomistic conception of the individual. A much-neglected question of the theory of cooperation is how the agent's social identity is determined, i.e. how individuals come to think of themselves and act as members of a group. Considering as an example one of Fehr et al.'s third party punishment experiments, I shall argue that the agents' identities are strongly in uenced by the way the experiment is presented to the participants, especially by the collectivity-related vocabulary used in the instructions. (shrink)
In his critique of rational choice theory, Amartya Sen claims that committed agents do not (or not exclusively) pursue their own goals. This claim appears to be nonsensical since even strongly heteronomous or altruistic agents cannot pursue other people's goals without making them their own. It seems that self-goal choice is constitutive of any kind of agency. In this paper, Sen's radical claim is defended. It is argued that the objection raised against Sen's claim holds only with respect to individual (...) goals. Not all goals, however, are individual goals; there are shared goals, too. Shared goals are irreducible to individual goals, as the argument from we-derivativeness and the argument from normativity show. It is further claimed that an adequate account of committed action defies both internalism and externalism about practical reason. (shrink)
The main impetus for organizing this event was the publication, in 2011, of Philip Pettit’s and Christian List’s book, *Group Agency*. List and Pettit argue that interpreting institutions like commercial corporations, governments, political parties, trade unions, churches, and universities as group agents offers a better understanding of their internal working and their effects on social life. Pettit and List base their account of group agency on a so-called “functionalist account of agency” which assumes that an agent is constituted by a (...) method of transforming representational and motivational states into actions. They reject essentialist conceptions of collective willing by claiming that group attitudes supervene on the individual attitudes of the group members.The invited speakers were asked to consider the following issues arising out of List’s and Pettit’s work: Can and should we consider groups as agents? What normative commitments come with such an assumption? What model of agen .. (shrink)
Practical reasoning is an agent's capacity to determine her course of behavior on the base of some evaluation of available alternatives. Reasoning is instrumental insofar as an agent decides over available alternatives by aiming to choose the best means to realize her own goals. Reasoning is strategic if the agent assumes that what the best means to realize her own goals is depends on what other agents will do. Strategic reasoning still plays a central role in influential accounts of social (...) action. This paper first argues for the view that purely strategic reasoners are unable to achieve even the most basic and unproblematic forms of mutually beneficent coordination, and then gathers some elements of a richer account of relevant forms of practical reasoning. (shrink)
Biodiversity sciences witness a double dynamic. Whereas the need for interdisciplinary approaches is increasingly appreciated, most disciplinary studies are still confined to developing operational, discipline-specific indices. We show that a reassessment of the general notion of biodiversity is needed to clarify this situation. We advocate a new approach, according to which the main usefulness of this notion is not to capture quantitatively biological objects or processes, but to organize meaningful and coherent interdisciplinary interactions by constructively criticizing disciplinary studies. We apply (...) this approach to ecological-economic models, in the hope of launching more fruitful critical dialogs between economists and biologists. (shrink)
‚Plural’ werden jene Handlungen genannt, die eine Mehrzahl von Akteuren und ein einziges, gemeinsames Ziel implizieren. Es gibt mehrere Analysen verschiedener Formen pluralen Handelns, welche aber alle mit gravierenden begrifflichen Problemen behaftet sind. In diesem Aufsatz wird ein Kernproblem der bisherigen Theorien pluralen Handelns identifiziert und einer Lösung zugeführt.