Institutional Proxy Agency: A We-Mode Approach

In Miguel Garcia-Godinez & Rachael Mellin (eds.), Tuomela on Sociality. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 151–176 (2023)
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Proxy agency is the capacity of individuals and groups to act for other individuals or groups in specific social transactions. For example, a legal team acts as a proxy for a client in a courtroom, or the Prime Minister acts as a proxy for the UK Government when attending international meetings, etc. Although a very common social phenomenon, it has not yet received enough philosophical treatment. Currently, the most developed account of this capacity is Ludwig’s proxy agency in collective action. Yet, his account relies on a deflationary, we-content approach to collective intentionality (á la Bratman). In this chapter, I argue that this approach is far too weak to explain proxy agency in institutional contexts—where the individuals and groups formally authorised to perform rule-guided group activities for the principal hold a strong, non-conditional we-commitment. In order to elucidate this feature, I provide an account of proxy agency based on a more robust, we-mode approach to collective intentionality (á la Tuomela). I suggest with this that, for institutional proxy agency to operate as expected, there must be appropriate conditions of sociality in place—which ultimately coheres with the larger project developed by Tuomela on social ontology.



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Miguel Garcia-Godinez
University College, Cork

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