We and the plural subject

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 39 (2):235-259 (2009)
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Abstract

Margaret Gilbert's plural subject theory defines social collectives in terms of common knowledge of expressed willingness to participate in some joint action. The author critically examines Gilbert's application of this theory to linguistic phenomena involving "we," arguing that recent work in linguistics provides the tools to develop a superior account. The author indicates that, apart from its own relevance, one should care about this critique because Gilbert's claims about the first person plural pronoun play a role in the argument in favor of her recent theory of political obligation. Key Words: collective agent • Gilbert • plural subject • semantics • we.

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Boudewijn de Bruin
University of Groningen