Collective Agency and Positive Political Theory

Journal of Theoretical Politics 36 (1):83–98 (2024)
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Positive political theorists typically deny the possibility of collective agents by understanding aggregation problems to imply that groups are not rational decision-makers. This view contrasts with List and Pettit’s view that such problems actually imply the necessity of accounting for collective agents in explanations of group behaviour. In this paper, I explore these conflicting views and ask whether positive political theorists should alter their individualist analyses of groups like legislatures, political parties, and constituent assemblies. I show how we fail to appreciate the significance of strategic voting and agenda control by treating groups as agents. I, therefore, conclude that positive political theorists should cling to their individualist approach and maintain that groups are not agents.



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Lars Moen
University of Vienna

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References found in this work

Leviathan.Thomas Hobbes - 1651 - Harmondsworth,: Penguin Books. Edited by C. B. Macpherson.
Group agency: the possibility, design, and status of corporate agents.Christian List & Philip Pettit - 2011 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Philip Pettit.
Group Agency and Artificial Intelligence.Christian List - 2021 - Philosophy and Technology (4):1-30.

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