Shared Agency and Mutual Obligations: A Pluralist Account

Philosophical Quarterly 73 (4):1120-1140 (2023)
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Abstract

Do participants in shared activity have mutual obligations to do their bit? This article shows this question has no one-size-fits-all answer and offers a pluralist account of the normativity of shared agency. The first part argues obligations to do one's bit have three degrees of involvement in shared activity. Such obligations might, obviously, bolster co-participants’ resolve to act as planned (degree 1). Less obviously, there also are higher and lower degrees of involvement. Obligations to do one's bit might provide our agency-pooling mechanism. When they do, we act together by virtue of satisfying them (degree 2). Conversely, some shared activities involve no obligation (degree 0). In the second part, I argue shared agency theory is best served by a non-moralistic conception of obligation, one on which co-participants’ obligations need be neither strict-performance obligations, nor directed ones. Overall, my arguments suggest that we can choose how to coordinate normatively our shared activities.

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Jules Salomone-Sehr
The Queen's College, Oxford

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