Synthese 199 (1-2):3367-3403 (2021)

Roberta Ferrario
Istituto Di Scienze E Tecnologie Della Cognizione, CNR, Trento
Daniele Porello
Università degli Studi di Genova
Thomas Brouwer
University of Leeds
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 theory of collective intentionality which builds on the ‘interpretationist’ tradition in metasemantics and the philosophy of mind as initiated by David Lewis and recently developed further by Robbie Williams. The collective-level analogue of interpretationism turns out to look different in some ways from the individual-level theory, but is well-suited to accommodating phenomena such as hybrid collective intentionality. Complemented with Kit Fine’s theory of variable embodiment, such a theory also provides a diachronic account of intentional collectives.
Keywords Collective intentionality  Group agents  Interpretationism  Socio-material  Hybrid agents  Radical interpretation  Variable embodiment
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-020-02938-z
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