Are corporations and other complex groups ever morally responsible in ways that do not reduce to the moral responsibility of their members? Christian List, Phillip Pettit, Kendy Hess, and David Copp have recently defended the idea that they can be. For them, complex groups (sometimes called collectives) can be irreducibly morally responsible because they satisfy the conditions for morally responsible agency; and this view is made more plausible by the claim (made by Theiner) that collectives can have minds. In this (...) paper I give a new argument against the idea that collectives can be irreducibly morally responsible in the ways that individuals can be. Drawing on recent work in the philosophy of mind (what Uriah Kriegel calls "the phenomenal intentionality research program") and moral theory (David Shoemaker's tripartite theory of moral responsibility), I argue that for something to have a mind, it must be phenomenally conscious, and that the fact that collectives lack phenomenal consciousness implies that they are incapable of accountability, an important form of moral responsibility. (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)
This book develops a novel approach to distributed cognition and collective intentionality. It is argued that collectivementality should be only be posited where specialized subroutines are integrated in a way that yields skillful, goal-directed behavior that is sensitive to concerns that are relevant to a group as such.
Collectivities (states, club, unions, teams, etc.) are often fruitfully spoken of as though they possessed representational capacities. Despite this fact, many philosophers reject the possibility that collectivities might be thought of as genuinely representational. This paper addresses the most promising objection to the possibility of collective representation, the claim that there is no explanatory value to positing collective representations above and beyond the representational states of the individuals that compose a particular collectivity. I claim that this argument either (...) proves too much, also giving us reason to abandon person-level representations, or it proves too little, demonstrating precisely the sort of continuity between individual and collective representations that would warrant the positing of genuine collective representations. I conclude with a brief sketch of two promising cases of collective representation that lend credence to my claim that individual representations and collective representations are analogous in a way that warrants the study of collectivementality from within the cognitive sciences. (shrink)
Bryce Huebner’s Macrocognition is a book with a double mission. The first and main mission is “to show that there are cases of collectivementality in our world” . Cases of collectivementality are cases where groups, teams, mobs, firms, colonies or some other collectivities possess cognitive capacities or mental states in the same sense that we individually do. To accomplish this mission, Huebner develops an account of macrocognition, where “the term ‘macrocognition’ is intended as shorthand (...) for the claim that system-level cognition is implemented by an integrated network of specialized computational mechanisms” .The second mission of Huebner’s book is to elaborate an account of cognitive architecture that could set the groundwork for identifying under what conditions groups, and individuals indeed, are fruitfully and justifiably said to be minded. To this end, Huebner tackles several foundational issues in cognitive science, including traditional philosophical questions a .. (shrink)
The present text aims at mapping out a synopsis of the main political parties from Romania after 1989 on the one hand, and at pointing out the way in which their activity interferes with religion, on the other hand. To this point we have endeavored to place emphasis on the role played by the church within the Romanian society, as well as the main paths of influence the clerical representatives may exert upon the political life, occasionally voluntarily, yet involuntarily for (...) the most part. (shrink)
This paper examines the collective fraudulent behaviors taking place during the residential real estate bubble in the United States from 2002 to 2006 and the influence of others’ choices on decision making leading to a herd mentality. The antecedents of collective fraud are discussed in terms of the sociological theory behind human herding and the fraudulent behaviors during the real estate bubble are examined. Using archival witness testimony as a primary basis for analysis, this paper argues that (...) without widespread collective fraud, the bubble may not have developed and the herd mentality may have dissipated without the consequences of financial disaster. The aim of an analysis of this nature is to offer a plausible explanation of some of the preconditions to the event under study. (shrink)
Critics of functionalism about the mind often rely on the intuition that collectivities cannot be conscious in motivating their positions. In this paper, we consider the merits of appealing to the intuition that there is nothing that it’s like to be a collectivity. We demonstrate that collectivementality is not an affront to commonsense, and we report evidence that demonstrates that the intuition that there is nothing that it’s like to be a collectivity is, to some extent, culturally (...) specific rather than universally held. This being the case, we argue that mere appeal to the intuitive implausibility of collective consciousness does not offer any genuine insight into the nature of mentality in general, nor the nature of consciousness in particular. (shrink)
In the 2000s, several psychiatrists cited the lack of relational disorders in the DSM-IV as one of the two most glaring gaps in psychiatric nosology, and campaigned for their inclusion in the DSM-5. This campaign failed, however, presumably in part due to serious “ontological concerns” haunting such disorders. Here, I offer a path to quell such ontological concerns, adding to previous conceptual work by Jerome Wakefield and Christian Perring. Specifically, I adduce reasons to think that collective disorders are compatible (...) with key metaphysical commitments of contemporary scientific psychiatry, and argue that if one accepts the existence of mental disorders in individuals as medical, then one has good reasons to accept the existence of collective disorders as medical. First, I outline how collective disorders are reconcilable with both the harmful dysfunction model of disorder and a denial of mind-body dualism. I then identify some potential weaknesses in the main pre-existing example of a collective disorder, offering my own examples as supplements. These examples’ medical plausibility is bolstered by: work in philosophy of biology on the generalized selected effects theory of function, and work in analytic philosophy of mind on collectivementality. Finally, after offering preliminary responses to the objection that the recognition of collective disorders may lead to an overpathologization of everyday life, I spell out ways in which this recognition may have empowering effects for some would-be patients; for example, by providing substance to the notion of a “sane response to an insane world.”. (shrink)
This essay provides a genealogy of corporate personhood as it exists currently in US law and places moral personhood in a similar genealogical context. This treatment demonstrates that the two are inextricably intertwined in both conception and institutionalized practices. We would do well to dismantle both; meanwhile, however, corporate personhood's implicit illiberal notion of collectivementality and responsibility may suggest possibilities for establishing collective counterforces to oppose activities of transnational for-profit corporations and mitigate their devastating political, economic, (...) and environmental effects upon actual people and the ecosystems upon which we depend. (shrink)
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, 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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
We introduce a number of logics to reason about collective propositional attitudes that are defined by means of the majority rule. It is well known that majoritarian aggregation is subject to irrationality, as the results in social choice theory and judgment aggregation show. The proposed logics for modelling collective attitudes are based on a substructural propositional logic that allows for circumventing inconsistent outcomes. Individual and collective propositional attitudes, such as beliefs, desires, obligations, are then modelled by means (...) of minimal modalities to ensure a number of basic principles. In this way, a viable consistent modelling of collective attitudes is obtained. (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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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 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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)