Groups with Minds of Their Own Making

Journal of Social Philosophy 51 (1):129-151 (2019)
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According Philip Pettit, suitably organised groups not only possess ‘minds of their own’ but can also ‘make up their minds’ and 'speak for themselves'--where these two capacities enable them to perform as conversable subjects or 'persons'. In this paper I critically examine Pettit's case for group personhood. My first step is to reconstruct his account, explaining first how he understands the two capacities he considers central to personhood – the capacity to ‘make up one’s mind’, and the capacity to ‘speak for oneself’ – before showing how he thinks these can be manifested in groups. With Pettit’s account duly reconstructed, I then turn to criticism, arguing that Pettit’s construal of making up one’s mind does not do proper justice to our first-personal self-understanding, nor to our characteristic interpersonal forms of engagement. This leads me, finally, to consider an alternative construal of ‘making up one’s mind’ and ‘speaking for oneself’ that is associated with the work of Richard Moran and whichargue, could usefully be exteextended to groups.

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Leo Townsend
University of Reading


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