Group Duties Without Decision-Making Procedures

Journal of Social Ontology 6 (1):127-139 (2020)
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Stephanie Collins’ Group Duties offers interesting new arguments and brings together numerous interconnected issues that have hitherto been treated separately. My critical commentary focuses on two particularly original and central claims of the book: (1) Only groups that are united under a group-level decision-making procedure can bear duties. (2) Attributions of duties to other groups should be understood as attributions of “coordination duties” to each member of the group, duties to take steps responsive to the others with a view to the group’s φ-ing or express willingness to do so. In support of the first claim, Collins argues that only groups that can make decisions can bear duties, and that the ability to make decisions requires the relevant sort of decision-making procedure. I suggest that both parts of this argument remain in need of further support. I furthermore argue that Collins’ account of coordination duties gets certain kinds of cases wrong, and suggest that attributions of duties to groups without decision-making procedures are more plausibly understood as attributing shared duties.

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Gunnar Björnsson
Stockholm University


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