Group Agency The Possibility, Design, and Status of Corporate Agents

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2013-05-19
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Are companies, churches, and states genuine agents? Or are they just collections of individual agents that give a misleading impression of unity? This question is important, since the answer dictates how we should go about explaining the behaviour of these entities and whether we should treat them as responsible and accountable in the manner of individuals. Group Agency offers a new approach to that question and is relevant, therefore, in a range of fields from philosophy to law, politics, and the social sciences. Christian List and Philip Pettit take the line that there really are group or corporate agents, over and above the individual agents who compose them, and that a proper social science and a proper approach to law, morality, and politics have to take account of this fact. Unlike some earlier defences of group agency, their account is entirely unmysterious in character and, despite not being technically difficult, is grounded in cutting-edge work in social choice theory, economics, and philosophy.

Author Biography

Christian List is Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at the London School of Economics. He works in individual and social choice theory, political philosophy, and the philosophy of social science. A graduate of the University of Oxford, he held research and visiting positions at Oxford, the Australian National University, MIT, Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Konstanz. He was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize in Philosophy, a Nuffield Foundation New Career Development Fellowship, and the 5th Social Choice and Welfare Prize, the latter two awards jointly with Franz Dietrich, for collaborative work on the theory of judgment aggregation. He is an editor of Economics and Philosophy and an associate editor of Episteme.

Philip Pettit is L. S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values at Princeton University. He works in moral and political philosophy and on related issues in the philosophy of mind and social science. Irish by background and training, he has taught at a number of universities, most prominently at the Australian National University, and is an honorary Professor of Philosophy at Queen's Belfast and the University of Sydney. He holds a number of honorary doctorates and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2010 he won a Guggenheim fellowship and is spending 2010-11 at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral and Social Sciences, Stanford University. In 2007 Oxford University Press published Common Minds: Themes from the Philosophy of Philip Pettit, ed. by G.Brennan et al.

Table of Contents

I: The Logical Possibility of Group Agents
1. The Conditions of Agency
2. The aggregation of intentional attitudes
3. The structure of group agents
II: The Organizational Design of Group Agents
4. The Epistemic Desideratum
5. The Incentive-Compatibility Desideratum
6. The Control Desideratum
III: The Normative Status of Group Agents
7. Holding Group Agents Responsible
8. Personifying Group Agents
9. Identifying with Group Agents

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