Group Agency and Supervenience

Christian List, Philip Pettit

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Can groups be rational agents over and above their individual members? Group agents are distinguished by their capacity to mimic the way individual agents act, and this capacity must 'supervene' on the group members' contributions. This chapter argues that, for a group to be rational, its judgment on a particular proposition must be a function of their individual sets of judgments across many propositions, not of the members' individual judgments on that proposition: the supervenience relation must be 'setwise', not 'proposition-wise'. This preserves the individualistic view that group agency is nothing mysterious, but also suggests that a group agent may hold judgments that are not directly continuous with its members' corresponding individual judgments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBeing Reduced
Subtitle of host publicationNew Essays on Reduction, Explanation, and Causation
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191705977
ISBN (Print)9780199211531
StatePublished - Feb 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Group agency
  • Group agents
  • Judgments
  • Rational agents
  • Supervenience


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