Collective intentionality and the constitution view; An essay on acting together

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One of the currently most discussed themes in the philosophy of action is whether there is some kind of collective intention that explains what groups do independent of what the indi-viduals who make up the group intend and do. One of the main obstacles to solve this prob-lem is that on the one hand collective intentionality is no simple summation, aggregate, or dis-tributive pattern of individual intentionality (the Irreducibility Claim), while on the other hand collective intentionality is in the heads of the participating individuals, so to speak, and so it is owned by each of the separate individuals who make up the group (the Individual Ownership Claim). The claims are contradictory and until now no satisfactory solution how to reconcile them has been found. In this article I argue that the constitution view, like the one developed by Lynne R. Baker, can provide a way to sidestep the contradiction. Just as a statue as such is constituted by the marble it is made of but has characteristics that are different from the mar-ble (a statue has a head and legs, while the marble hasn’t; while the marble is stony and the statue as such isn’t), I argue that a group is constituted by its members and that a group on the one hand and its members on the other hand have different characteristics. This is possible be-cause group and members are on different levels. Then there is no longer a contradiction be-tween the Irreducibility Claim and the Individual Ownership Claim, for the former claim con-cerns the group level and the latter claim concerns the level of the group members. This ex-plains that a group can have intentions that are no simple summation, aggregate, or distributive patterns of the intentions of its members and that group intentions can be different from if not contradictory to what the individual members taken together intend.
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Archival date: 2021-11-23
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