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

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


By (author) Christian List, By (author) Philip Pettit


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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 250 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 236mm x 13mm | 531g
  • Publication date: 26 May 2011
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0199591563
  • ISBN 13: 9780199591565
  • Sales rank: 373,130

Product description

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 explain the behaviour of these entities and whether we should treat them as responsible and accountable on the model of individual agents. Group Agency offers a new approach to that question and is relevant, therefore, to a range of fields from philosophy to law, politics, and the social sciences. Christian List and Philip Pettit argue that there really are group or corporate agents, over and above the individual agents who compose them, and that a proper approach to the social sciences, law, morality, and politics must 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.

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Author information

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.

Review quote

Without a doubt, List and Pettit accomplish their threefold task of establishing the logical possibility of group agents, explaining the relation of design to the performance of group agents, and arguing in favour of holding these agents morally responsible ... there is a great deal to learn from this book and it ought to be required reading for anyone interested in group agency and responsibility. Zachary J. Goldberg, Universit[currency]at Regensburg, Germany, The Philosophical Quarterly Group Agency is convincing and illuminating. David-Hillel Ruben, Times Literary Supplement Group Agency combines a focus on groups with more general philosophical discussion in a sometimes surprising but always enlightening way Times Literary Supplement fascinating and enjoyable ... there is much to ponder, and much to learn from, in this lively work. Thomas H. Smith, Mind the judgement aggregation problem is a significant and neglected aspect of group agency, and List and Pettits discussion of this problem is important and enlightening. Robert Sugden, Economics and Philosophy

Table of contents

Contents ; Preface ; Introduction ; 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 ; References ; Endnotes