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Groups as Agents

Paperback By Deborah Perron Tollefsen
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Product Description

In the social sciences and in everyday speech we often talk about groups as if they behaved in the same way as individuals, thinking and acting as a singular being. We say, for example, that “Google intends to develop an automated car,” that “the US Government believes that Syria has used chemical weapons on its people,” or that “the NRA wants to protect the rights of gun owners.” We also often ascribe legal and moral responsibility to groups. But could groups literally intend things? Is there such a thing as a collective mind? If so, should groups be held morally responsible? Such questions are of vital importance to our understanding of the social world. In this lively, engaging introduction, suitable for both scholars and students, Deborah Tollefsen offers a careful survey of contemporary philosophers’ answers to these questions and argues for the unorthodox view that certain groups should, indeed, be treated as agents and deserve to be held morally accountable.

Product Details

Format: Paperback, 184 pages Language: English
Dimension: 21.59cm x 13.72cm x 1.47cm ISBN10: 074568484X
Weight: 231g ISBN13: 9780745684840
Publication Date: 24 Mar 2015 Publisher: Polity Press

About Author

Deborah Tollefsen is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Memphis

Product Reviews



This eminently readable book does a great job on two fronts. It opens up the issues of joint intentionality, group agency, and collective responsibility, introducing readers to the many perspectives found in this rapidly emerging field, and it offers a fine, accessible statement of the distinctive views that the author herself has developed on those issues.

? Philip Pettit, Princeton University and the Australian National University?

In this outstanding new book, Deborah Tollefsen analyses group belief and agency while at each stage clearly articulating the relation between groups and individuals. She critically evaluates all the major philosophical theories of group cognition and develops her own novel, integrative framework anchored in our everyday practices of interpreting the actions of groups. Tollefsen?s accessible work has implications for ethics and the law, for psychology and for social theory, effectively bringing philosophy to life.

? John Sutton, Macquarie University?

Deborah Tollefsen is well versed in the contemporary philosophical debates about, to put it broadly, the mentality of groups. This book is a thoughtful and clearly written introduction to these debates. Tollefsen also offers her own perspective, one which engages with the notion of mentality itself.

? Margaret Gilbert, University of California, Irvine


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