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  1. There Are No Empty Groups.David Strohmaier - manuscript
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  2. Value-Based Essentialism: Essentialist Beliefs About Social Groups with Shared Values.April Bailey, Joshua Knobe & Newman George - forthcoming - Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
    Psychological essentialism has played an important role in social psychology, informing influential theories of stereotyping and prejudice as well as questions about wrongdoers’ accountability and their ability to change. In the existing literature, essentialism is often tied to beliefs in shared biology—i.e., the extent to which members of a social group are seen as having the same underlying biological features. Here we investigate the possibility of “value-based essentialism” in which people think of certain social groups in terms of an underlying (...)
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  3. Structural Injustice, Shared Obligations, and Global Civil Society.Jelena Belic & Zlata Bozac - forthcoming - Social Theory and Practice.
    It is frequently argued that to address structural injustice, individuals should participate in collective actions organized by civil society organizations (CSOs), but the role and the normative status of CSOs are rarely discussed. In this paper, we argue that CSOs semi-perfect our shared obligation to address structural injustice by defining shared goals as well as taking actions to further them. This assigns a special moral status to CSOs, which in turn gives rise to our duty to support them. Thus, we (...)
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  4. Group Agents and Moral Status: What Can We Owe to Organizations?Adam Lovett & Stefan Riedener - forthcoming - Canadian Journal of Philosophy.
    Organizations have neither a right to the vote nor a weighty right to life. We need not enfranchise Goldman Sachs. We should feel few scruples in dissolving Standard Oil. But they are not without rights altogether. We can owe it to them to keep our promises. We can owe them debts of gratitude. Thus, we can owe some things to organizations. But we cannot owe them everything we can owe to people. They seem to have a peculiar, fragmented moral status. (...)
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  5. Group Action Without Group Minds.Kenneth Silver - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Groups behave in a variety of ways. To show that this behavior amounts to action, it would be best to fit it into a general account of action. However, nearly every account from the philosophy of action requires the agent to have mental states such as beliefs, desires, and intentions. Unfortunately, theorists are divided over whether groups can instantiate these states—typically depending on whether or not they are willing to accept functionalism about the mind. But we can avoid this debate. (...)
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  6. Can Groups Be Genuine Believers? The Argument From Interpretationism.Marvin Backes - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):10311-10329.
    In ordinary discourse we often attribute beliefs not just to individuals but also to groups. But can groups really have genuine beliefs? This paper considers but ultimately rejects one of the main arguments in support of the claim that groups can be genuine believers – the Argument From Interpretationism – and concludes that we have good reasons to be sceptical about the existence of group beliefs. According to the Argument From Interpretationism, roughly speaking, groups qualify as genuine believers because we (...)
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  7. On What We Can Expect From One Another: Reciprocity in Families, Clubs, and Corporations.Laura Wildemann Kane - 2021 - Journal of Social Philosophy 52 (3):310-327.
    Prominent accounts of collective intentional activity explain the nature of social groups by virtue of a specific criterion: goal-directedness. In doing so, these accounts offer little in the way of determining whether there are any differences among social groups. In this paper, I propose a refined framework of collective intentional activity that can distinguish among social groups better than alternative accounts, and which has revisionary but nevertheless plausible implications for the nature of the family: specifically, that certain friendship relationships may (...)
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  8. What it Might Be like to Be a Group Agent.Max F. Kramer - 2021 - Neuroethics 14 (3):437-447.
    Many theorists have defended the claim that collective entities can attain genuine agential status. If collectives can be agents, this opens up a further question: can they be conscious? That is, is there something that it is like to be them? Eric Schwitzgebel argues that yes, collective entities, may well be significantly conscious. Others, including Kammerer, Tononi and Koch, and List reject the claim. List does so on the basis of Tononi’s Integrated Information Theory of consciousness. I argue here that (...)
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  9. Group Agency and Artificial Intelligence.Christian List - 2021 - Philosophy and Technology (4):1-30.
    The aim of this exploratory paper is to review an under-appreciated parallel between group agency and artificial intelligence. As both phenomena involve non-human goal-directed agents that can make a difference to the social world, they raise some similar moral and regulatory challenges, which require us to rethink some of our anthropocentric moral assumptions. Are humans always responsible for those entities’ actions, or could the entities bear responsibility themselves? Could the entities engage in normative reasoning? Could they even have rights and (...)
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  10. Social Categories in the Making: Construction or Recruitment?Samuli Reijula - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):12315-12330.
    Real kinds, both natural and social categories, are characterized by rich inductive potential. They have relatively stable sets of conceptually independent projectable properties. Somewhat surprisingly, even some purely social categories show such multiple projectability. The article explores the origin of the inductive richness of social categories and concepts. I argue that existing philosophical accounts provide only a partial explanation, and mechanisms of boundary formation and stabilization must be brought into view for a more comprehensive account of inductively rich social categories.
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  11. Cooperation: With or Without Shared Intentions.Jules Salomone-Sehr - 2021 - Ethics 132 (2):414-444.
    This article articulates our everyday notion of cooperation. First, I topple an orthodoxy of shared agency theory by arguing that shared intentions to J are neither necessary nor sufficient for J to be cooperative. I refute the necessity claim by providing examples of shared intention-free cooperation (in institutional contexts and beyond). I refute the sufficiency claim by observing that coercion and exploitation need not preclude shared intentions but do preclude cooperation. These arguments, in turn, lead to my positive proposal. People (...)
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  12. The Possibility of Multicultural Nationhood.Eric Wilkinson - 2021 - American Review of Canadian Studies 51 (1):488-504.
    In this article, I explain and defend the concept of multicultural nationhood. Multicultural nationhood accounts for how a nation can have a cohesive identity despite being internally diverse. In Canada, the challenge of nation-building despite the country’s diversity has prompted reflection on how to conceive of the national identity. The two most influential theories of multiculturalism to come from Canada, those of Charles Taylor and Will Kymlicka, emerged through consideration of Canada’s diversity, particularly the place of Québécois, Indigenous peoples, and (...)
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  13. Collective Responsibility and Acting Together.Olle Blomberg & Frank Hindriks - 2020 - In Saba Bazargan-Forward & Deborah Tollefsen (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Collective Responsibility. Routledge.
    What is the moral significance of the contrast between acting together and strategic interaction? We argue that while collective moral responsibility is not uniquely tied to the former, the degree to which the participants in a shared intentional wrongdoing are blameworthy is normally higher than when agents bring about the same wrong as a result of strategic interaction. One argument for this claim focuses on the fact that shared intentions cause intended outcomes in a more robust manner than the intentions (...)
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  14. Hybrid Collective Intentionality.Thomas Brouwer, Roberta Ferrario & Daniele Porello - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):3367-3403.
    The theory of collective agency and intentionality is a flourishing field of research, and our understanding of these phenomena has arguably increased greatly in recent years. Extant theories, however, are still ill-equipped to explain certain aspects of collective intentionality. In this article we draw attention to two such underappreciated aspects: the failure of the intentional states of collectives to supervene on the intentional states of their members, and the role of non-human factors in collective agency and intentionality. We propose a (...)
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  15. 'Ought Implies Can' and the Possibility of Group Obligations.Isaac Hadfield - 2020 - British Undergraduate Philosophy Review 1 (1):40-49.
    Positing group level obligations has come under attack from concerns relating to agency as a necessary requirement for obligation bearing. Roughly stated, the worry is that since only agents can have moral obligations, and groups are not agents, groups cannot have moral obligations. The intuition behind this constraint is itself based on the ability requirement of 'ought implies can': in order for a group to have an obligation it must have the ability to perform an action, but only agents can (...)
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  16. Groups as Pluralities.John Horden & Dan López de Sa - 2020 - Synthese 198 (11):10237-10271.
    We say that each social group is identical to its members. The group just is them; they just are the group. This view of groups as pluralities has tended to be swiftly rejected by social metaphysicians, if considered at all, mainly on the basis of two objections. First, it is argued that groups can change in membership, while pluralities cannot. Second, it is argued that different groups can have exactly the same members, while different pluralities cannot. We rebut these objections, (...)
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  17. Collective Recognition and Function in Concepts of Institutional Social Groups.Alexander Noyes & Frank C. Keil - 2020 - Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 149 (7):1344-1359.
  18. Social Structures and the Ontology of Social Groups.Katherine Ritchie - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (2):402-424.
    Social groups—like teams, committees, gender groups, and racial groups—play a central role in our lives and in philosophical inquiry. Here I develop and motivate a structuralist ontology of social groups centered on social structures (i.e., networks of relations that are constitutively dependent on social factors). The view delivers a picture that encompasses a diverse range of social groups, while maintaining important metaphysical and normative distinctions between groups of different kinds. It also meets the constraint that not every arbitrary collection of (...)
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  19. Two theories of group agency.David Strohmaier - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (7):1901-1918.
    Two theories dominate the current debate on group agency: functionalism, as endorsed by Bryce Huebner and Brian Epstein, and interpretivism, as defended by Deborah Tollefsen, and Christian List and Philip Pettit. In this paper, I will give a new argument to favour functionalism over interpretivism. I discuss a class of cases which the former, but not the latter, can accommodate. Two features characterise this class: First, distinct groups coincide, that is numerically distinct groups share all their members at all time. (...)
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  20. The Stage Theory of Groups.Isaac Wilhelm - 2020 - Tandf: Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (4):661-674.
    I propose a `stage theory’ of groups: a group is a fusion of group-stages, where a group-stage is a plurality of individuals at a world and a time. The stage theory consists of existence conditions, identity conditions, and parthood conditions for groups.
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  21. What Are Social Groups? Their Metaphysics and How to Classify Them.Brian Epstein - 2019 - Synthese 196 (12):4899-4932.
    This paper presents a systematic approach for analyzing and explaining the nature of social groups. I argue against prominent views that attempt to unify all social groups or to divide them into simple typologies. Instead I argue that social groups are enormously diverse, but show how we can investigate their natures nonetheless. I analyze social groups from a bottom-up perspective, constructing profiles of the metaphysical features of groups of specific kinds. We can characterize any given kind of social group with (...)
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  22. How Groups Persist.August Faller - 2019 - Synthese 198 (8):1-15.
    How do groups of people persist through time? Groups can change their members, locations, and structure. In this paper, I present puzzles of persistence applied to social groups. I first argue that four-dimensional theories better explain the context sensitivity of how groups persist. I then exploit two unique features of the social to argue for the stage theory of group persistence in particular. First, fusion and fission cases actually happen to social groups, and so cannot be marginalized as “pathological.” Second, (...)
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  23. Existence, Really? Tacit Disagreements About “Existence” in Disputes About Group Minds and Corporate Agents.Johannes Himmelreich - 2019 - Synthese 198 (5):4939-4953.
    A central dispute in social ontology concerns the existence of group minds and actions. I argue that some authors in this dispute rely on rival views of existence without sufficiently acknowledging this divergence. I proceed in three steps in arguing for this claim. First, I define the phenomenon as an implicit higher-order disagreement by drawing on an analysis of verbal disputes. Second, I distinguish two theories of existence—the theory-commitments view and the truthmaker view—in both their eliminativist and their constructivist variants. (...)
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  24. Punishing Groups: When External Justice Takes Priority Over Internal Justice.Johannes Himmelreich & Holly Lawford-Smith - 2019 - The Monist 102 (2):134-150.
    Punishing groups raises a difficult question, namely, how their punishment can be justified at all. Some have argued that punishing groups is morally problematic because of the effects that the punishment entails for their members. In this paper we argue against this view. We distinguish the question of internal justice—how punishment-effects are distributed—from the question of external justice—whether the punishment is justified. We argue that issues of internal justice do not in general undermine the permissibility of punishment. We also defend (...)
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  25. The Duty to Join Forces: When Individuals Lack Control.Frank Hindriks - 2019 - The Monist 102 (2):204-220.
    Some harms are such that they cannot be prevented by a single individual because she lacks the requisite control. Because of this, no individual has the obligation to do so. It may be, however, that the harm can be prevented when several individuals combine their efforts. I argue that in many such situations each individual has a duty to join forces: to approach others, convince them to contribute, and subsequently make a coordinated effort to prevent the harm. A distinctive feature (...)
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  26. Norms That Make a Difference: Social Practices and Institutions.Frank Hindriks - 2019 - Analyse & Kritik 41 (1):125-146.
    Institutions are norm-governed social practices, or so I propose. But what does it mean for a norm to govern a social practice? Theories that analyze institutions as equilibria equate norms with sanctions and model them as costs. The idea is that the sanctions change preferences and thereby behavior. This view fails to capture the fact that people are often motivated by social norms as such, when they regard them as legitimate. I argue that, in order for a social norm to (...)
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  27. Collective Risk Social Dilemma: Role of Information Availability in Achieving Cooperation Against Climate Change.Medha Kumar & Varun Dutt - 2019 - Journal of Dynamic Decision Making 5 (1):2-2.
    Behaviour change via monetary investments is a way to fighting climate change. Prior research has investigated the role of climate-change investments using a Collective-Risk-Social-Dilemma game, where players have to collectively reach a target by contributing to a climate fund; failing which they lose their investments with a probability. However, little is known on how variability in the availability of information about players’ investments influences investment decisions in CRSD. In an experiment involving CRSD, 480 participants were randomly assigned to different conditions (...)
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  28. How to Identify Wholes with Their Parts.Jonathan D. Payton - 2019 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 18):4571-4593.
    I claim that a whole is identical to its parts. Many find this claim incredible: it seems that a whole and its parts must be distinct, for the whole is one thing while its parts are many things. Byeong-uk Yi has developed a version of this argument which exploits the resources of plural logic. Yi provides logical analyses of the predicates ‘one’ and ‘many’ which seem to show that nothing can satisfy them both. But there are two senses of the (...)
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  29. Collective Continuity and Ontological Responsibility: Contesting the Pragmatic Approach in Ascribing Responsibility to Groups.Ionut Untea - 2019 - Ethical Perspectives 4 (26):583-621.
    The present paper challenges the view, rooted in the argument that groups lack a mind in the Davidsonian sense, that collective responsibility may be assessed mainly according to pragmatic criteria. I argue in favour of a kind of mental web of holistic collective attitudes and mindsets in the weak sense. I further connect this mental web to the dimension of collective responsibility via a reflection involving the existentialist dimension of Jaspers’ dilemma of seeing individuals in the position of having to (...)
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  30. Review of Kirk Ludwig's From Individual to Plural Agency, Collective Action: Volume 1[REVIEW]Olle Blomberg - 2018 - Philosophical Quarterly 68 (272):626-628.
  31. Collective Choice and Social Welfare: Considerations for Indigenous Australians.Susan Green & Richard Hugman - 2018 - Ethics and Social Welfare 12 (4):400-406.
  32. Collective Agency: Moral and Amoral.Frank Hindriks - 2018 - Dialectica 72 (1):3-23.
  33. We Are Not a Plural Subject.Ludger Jansen - 2018 - ProtoSociology 35:167-196.
    In "On Social Facts" (1989) and subsequent works, Margaret Gilbert has suggested a plural subject account of the semantics of ‘we’ that claims that a central or standard use of ‘we’ is to refer to an existing or anticipated plural subject. This contrasts with the more general approach to treat plural pronouns as expressions referring to certain pluralities. I argue that (i) the plural subject approach cannot account for certain syntactic phenomena and that (ii) the sense of intimacy, which Gilbert (...)
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  34. Organisations and Variable Embodiments.Daniele Porello, Roberta Ferrario & Claudio Masolo - 2018 - In Stefano Borgo, Pascal Hitzler & Oliver Kutz (eds.), Formal Ontology in Information Systems - Proceedings of the 10th International Conference, {FOIS} 2018, Cape Town, South Africa, 19-21 September 2018. pp. 127--140.
    How can organisations survive not only the substitution of members, but also other dramatic changes, like that of the norms regulating their activities, the goals they plan to achieve, or the system of roles that compose them? This paper is as first step towards a well-founded ontological analysis of the persistence of organisations through changes. Our analysis leverages Kit Fine’s notions of rigid and variable embodiment and proposes to view the (history of the) decisions made by the members of the (...)
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  35. Social Creationism and Social Groups.Katherine Ritchie - 2018 - In Kendy Hess, Violetta Igneski & Tracy Isaacs (eds.), Collectivity: Ontology, Ethics, and Social Justice. London, UK: pp. 13-34.
    Social groups seem to be entities that are dependent on us. Given their apparent dependence, one might adopt Social Creationism—the thesis that all social groups are social objects created through (some specific types of) thoughts, intentions, agreements, habits, patterns of interaction, and practices. Here I argue that not all social groups come to be in the same way. This is due, in part, to social groups failing to share a uniform nature. I argue that some groups (e.g., racial and gender (...)
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  36. The Curious Case of Ronald McDonald’s Claim to Rights: An Ontological Account of Differences in Group and Individual Person Rights: Winner of the 2016 Essay Competition of the International Social Ontology Society.Leonie Smith - 2018 - Journal of Social Ontology 4 (1):1-28.
    Performative accounts of personhood argue that group agents are persons, fit to be held responsible within the social sphere. Nonetheless, these accounts want to retain a moral distinction between group and individual persons. That: Group-persons can be responsible for their actions qua persons, but that group-persons might nonetheless not have rights equivalent to those of human persons. I present an argument which makes sense of this disanalogy, without recourse to normative claims or additional ontological commitments. I instead ground rights in (...)
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  37. Group Membership and Parthood.David Strohmaier - 2018 - Journal of Social Ontology 4 (2):121-135.
    Despite having faced severe criticism in the past, mereological approaches to group ontology, which argue that groups are wholes and that groups members are parts, have recently managed a comeback. Authors such as Katherine Ritchie and Paul Sheehy have applied neo-Aristotelian mereology to groups, and Katherine Hawley has defended mereological approaches against the standard objections in the literature. The present paper develops the mereological approaches to group ontology further and proposes an analysis of group membership as parthood plus further restrictions. (...)
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  38. The Metaphysics of Statehood.David Tan - 2018 - Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 31 (2):403-429.
    This paper considers the connections between the Statehood/recognition debate in international law and social ontology. I aim to show that certain theories of social ontology, which I call Groupjective Internalism, can be used to defend Constitutive Theories of Statehood. Among philosophers whom I consider committed to Groupjective Internalism are major figures in the field: Searle, Gilbert and Tuomela. This is an interesting result as Constitutive Theories are generally looked upon with suspicion in international law.
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  39. Collective Intentionality and Socially Extended Minds.Mattia Gallotti & Bryce Huebner - 2017 - Philosophical Psychology 30 (3):247-264.
    There are many ways to advance our understanding of the human mind by studying different kinds of sociality. Our aim in this introduction is to situate claims about extended cognition within a broader framework of research on human sociality. We briefly discuss the existing landscape, focusing on ways of defending socially extended cognition. We then draw on resources from the recent literature on the socially extended mind, as well as the literature on collective intentionality, to provide a framework for thinking (...)
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  40. The Paraphrase Argument Against Collective Actions.Johannes Himmelreich - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (1):81-95.
    This paper is about the status of collective actions. According to one view, collective actions metaphysically reduce to individual actions because sentences about collective actions are merely a shorthand for sentences about individual actions. I reconstruct an argument for this view and show via counterexamples that it is not sound. The argument relies on a paraphrase procedure to unpack alleged shorthand sentences about collective actions into sentences about individual actions. I argue that the best paraphrase procedure that has been put (...)
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  41. The Demos as a Plural Subject.Bas Leijssenaar - 2017 - Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy 46 (1):37-64.
    Existing conceptualizations of the demos fail to treat issues of composition and performativity consistently. Recent literature suggests that both aspects are required in a satisfactory account of the demos. An analysis of this literature suggests several desiderata that such an account must meet. I approach the definition of demos with a conceptual framework derived from Margaret Gilbert’s plural subject theory of social groups. I propose an account of demos as a plural subject, constituted by joint commitment. This account offers an (...)
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  42. From Plural to Institutional Agency: Collective Action II.Kirk Ludwig - 2017 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Kirk Ludwig presents a philosophical account of institutional action, such as action by corporations and nation states. He argues that it can be fully understood in terms of the agency of individuals, and concepts derived from our understanding of individual action. He thus argues for a strong form of methodological individualism.
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  43. Methodological Individualism, the We-Mode, and Team Reasoning.Kirk Ludwig - 2017 - In Gerhard Preyer & Georg Peter (eds.), Social Ontology and Collective Intentionality: Critical Essays on the Philosophy of Raimo Tuomela with his Responses. Cham, Switzerlan: Springer. pp. 3-18.
    Raimo Tuomela is one of the pioneers of social action theory and has done as much as anyone over the last thirty years to advance the study of social action and collective intentionality. Social Ontology: Collective Intentionality and Group Agents (2013) presents the latest version of his theory and applications to a range of important social phenomena. The book covers so much ground, and so many important topics in detailed discussions, that it would impossible in a short space to do (...)
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  44. Voluntary Groups, Noncompliance, and Conflicts of Reason: Tuomela on Acting as a Group-Member.David Schweikard - 2017 - In Georg Peter & Gerhard Preyer (eds.), Social Ontology and Collective Intentionality: Critical Essays on the Philosophy of Raimo Tuomela with his Responses. Springer.
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  45. The Social Ontology of Deliberating Bodies.Philippe Urfalino - 2017 - Journal of Political Philosophy 25 (4):387-410.
    This article is a plea for a realist view of deliberative bodies against a nominalist view. They cannot be reduced to the changing collection of the individuals who compose it. The deliberative bodies are real collective entities insofar as we are able to precise their criteria of identity. These are the differentiation between an interior and an exterior linked by functions or ends; thus these collective entities are adaptive systems. There are three kinds of such adaptive systems: technical systems, organisms (...)
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  46. Mind-Dependent Kinds.Khalidi Muhammad Ali - 2016 - Journal of Social Ontology 2 (2):223-246.
    Many philosophers take mind-independence to be criterial for realism about kinds. This is problematic when it comes to psychological and social kinds, which are unavoidably mind-dependent. But reflection on the case of artificial or synthetic kinds shows that the criterion of mind-independence needs to be qualified in certain ways. However, I argue that none of the usual variants on the criterion of mind-dependence is capable of distinguishing real or natural kinds from non-real kinds. Although there is a way of modifying (...)
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  47. Collective Intentionality.Marija Jankovic & Kirk Ludwig - 2016 - In Lee McIntyre & Alex Rosenberg (eds.), The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Social Science. New York: Routledge. pp. 214-227.
    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 (...)
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  48. Debating the Reality of Social Classes.Harold Kincaid - 2016 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 46 (2):189-209.
    This article first surveys a significant set of issues that are intertwined in asking whether social classes are real. It distinguishes two different notions of class: class as organized social entities and class as types of individuals based on individual characteristics. There is good evidence for some classes as social entities—ruling classes and underclasses in some societies—but other classes in contemporary society are sometimes best thought of in terms of types, not social entities. Implications are drawn for pluralist accounts of (...)
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  49. What is It Like to Be a Group Agent?Christian List - 2016 - Noûs:295-319.
    The existence of group agents is relatively widely accepted. Examples are corporations, courts, NGOs, and even entire states. But should we also accept that there is such a thing as group consciousness? I give an overview of some of the key issues in this debate and sketch a tentative argument for the view that group agents lack phenomenal consciousness. In developing my argument, I draw on integrated information theory, a much-discussed theory of consciousness. I conclude by pointing out an implication (...)
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  50. Goods and Groups: Thomistic Social Action and Metaphysics.James Dominic Rooney - 2016 - Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 90:287-297.
    Hans Bernhard Schmid has argued that contemporary theories of collective action and social metaphysics unnecessarily reject the concept of a “shared intentional state.” I will argue that three neo-Thomist philosophers, Jacques Maritain, Charles de Koninck, and Yves Simon, all seem to agree that the goals of certain kinds of collective agency cannot be analyzed merely in terms of intentional states of individuals. This was prompted by a controversy over the nature of the “common good,” in response to a perceived threat (...)
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