What is a mode account of collective intentionality?

In Gerhard Preyer & Georg Peter (eds.), Social Ontology and Collective Intentionality: Critical Essays on the Philosophy of Raimo Tuomela with his Responses. Cham: Springer. pp. 37-70 (2016)
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This paper discusses Raimo Tuomela's we-mode account in his recent book "Social Ontology: Collective Intentionality and Group Agents" and develops the idea that mode should be thought of as representational. I argue that in any posture – intentional state or speech act – we do not merely represent a state of affairs as what we believe, or intend etc. – as the received view of 'propositional attitudes' has it –, but our position relative to that state of affairs and thus ourselves. That is, we represent the subject through what I call "subject mode" and its position through what I call "position mode". I argue that the key to understanding collective intentionality is to understand how we represent others as co-subjects of positions rather than as their objects. This is shown on various levels of collective intentionality. On the non-conceptual level of joint attention we experience others as co-subjects who we attend with rather than to and who we are at least also disposed to act jointly with. On the conceptual level of the we-mode we represent others as co-subjects of positions of knowledge, intention, belief and shared values. Organizations and thus group agents in Tuomela's sense I propose to understand in terms of what I call "role mode", that is, in terms of the positions individuals and groups take as occupants of certain roles, for example, as committee members, or as chancellor of Germany. I try to show how this account, while very much in the spirit of Tuomela's, can avoid his fictionalism about group agents and some other problems of his account, while steering between the Scylla of excessive individualism and the Charybdis of extreme collectivism.

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Michael Schmitz
University of Vienna


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