Groups as fictional agents

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Can groups really be agents or is group agency just a fiction? Christian List and Philip Pettit argue influentially for group-agent realism by showing how certain groups form and act on attitudes in ways they take to be unexplainable at the level of the individual agents constituting them. Group agency is therefore considered not a fiction or a metaphor but a reality we must account for in explanations of certain social phenomena. In this paper, I challenge this defence of group-agent realism by showing how it is undermined by individual-level analysis of how individuals interact within groups. While group agency can be a useful fiction, real agents are at the individual level, not the collective level.

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Lars Moen
University of Vienna

Citations of this work

Against Corporate Responsibility.Lars J. K. Moen - 2024 - Journal of Social Philosophy 55 (1):44–61.
Collective Agency and Positive Political Theory.Lars Moen - 2024 - Journal of Theoretical Politics 36 (1):83–98.

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References found in this work

Real patterns.Daniel C. Dennett - 1991 - Journal of Philosophy 88 (1):27-51.
Intentional systems.Daniel C. Dennett - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (February):87-106.
Conditions of personhood.Daniel C. Dennett - 1976 - In Amelie Oksenberg Rorty (ed.), The Identities of Persons. University of California Press.
Group Agency and Artificial Intelligence.Christian List - 2021 - Philosophy and Technology (4):1-30.

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