Groups as fictional agents

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
  Copy   BIBTEX


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.

Similar books and articles

Eliminating Group Agency.Lars J. K. Moen - 2023 - Economics and Philosophy 39 (1):43-66.
Kantian Group Agency.Amy L. MacArthur - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (4):917-927.
Group agency and supervenience.Philip Pettit - 2006 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 44 (S1):85-105.
Group Responsibility.Christian List - 2022 - In Dana Kay Nelkin & Derk Pereboom (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Moral Responsibility. New York: Oxford University Press.
Rationality, Reasoning and Group Agency.Philip Pettit - 2007 - Dialectica 61 (4):495-519.
Group Agents and the Phenomenology of Joint Action.Jordan Baker & Michael Ebling - forthcoming - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-25.
Group Rights and Group Agency.Adina Preda - 2012 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 9 (2):229-254.
'Ought Implies Can' and the Possibility of Group Obligations.Isaac Hadfield - 2020 - British Undergraduate Philosophy Review 1 (1):40-49.
Group agency: the possibility, design, and status of corporate agents.Christian List & Philip Pettit - 2011 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Philip Pettit.
Why Change the Subject? On Collective Epistemic Agency.András Szigeti - 2015 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 6 (4):843-864.


Added to PP

186 (#102,667)

6 months
115 (#31,380)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

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.

Add more citations

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.

View all 24 references / Add more references