16th Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Moen

Lars Moen, Australian National University.

Redundant Group Agency


This paper rejects group-agent realism, which is the idea that groups can be agents in their own right, autonomous from their individual group members. The paper focuses on the functionalist definition of agency, which Philip Pettit and Christian List apply in their attributing agency to certain groups. Their approach to group agency presupposes that we can robustly understand a group’s beliefs and actions only by attributing agency to it. List and Pettit believe the solving of group-level inconsistencies resulting from judgment aggregations makes sense only if we understand the group as an agent in its own right, capable of correcting such inconsistencies. This paper shows that the solutions they propose are fully explainable by attributing agency only to the individual group members, and not to the group itself. We can consequently explain the group’s behaviour without seeing it as an agent.