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Accounting for groups: the dynamics of intragroup deliberation

Alexander, J Mckenzie and Morley, Julia (2021) Accounting for groups: the dynamics of intragroup deliberation. Synthese, 199 (3-4). 7957 - 7980. ISSN 1573-0964

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s11229-021-03146-z


In a highly influential work, List and Pettit (Group Agency: The Possibility, Design, and Status of Corporate Agents, Oxford University Press, 2011) draw upon the theory of judgement aggregation to offer an argument for the existence of nonreductive group agents; they also suggest that nonreductive group agency is a widespread phenomenon. In this paper, we argue for the following two claims. First, that the axioms they consider cannot naturally be interpreted as either descriptive characterisations or normative constraints upon group judgements, in general. This makes it unclear how the List and Pettit argument is to apply to real world group behaviour. Second, by examining empirical data about how group judgements are made by a powerful international regulatory board, we show how each of the List and Pettit axioms can be violated in ways which are straightforwardly explicable at the level of the individual. This suggests that group agency may best be understood as a pluralistic phenomenon, where close inspection of the dynamics of intragroup deliberation can reveal that what prima facie appears to be a nonreductive group agent is, in fact, reducible.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2021 14:21
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2022 15:24

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