, Volume 157, Issue 2, pp 141–159

On collective intentions: collective action in economics and philosophy


DOI: 10.1007/s11229-006-9034-z

Cite this article as:
Bardsley, N. Synthese (2007) 157: 141. doi:10.1007/s11229-006-9034-z


Philosophers and economists write about collective action from distinct but related points of view. This paper aims to bridge these perspectives. Economists have been concerned with rationality in a strategic context. There, problems posed by “coordination games” seem to point to a form of rational action, “team thinking,” which is not individualistic. Philosophers’ analyses of collective intention, however, sometimes reduce collective action to a set of individually instrumental actions. They do not, therefore, capture the first person plural perspective characteristic of team thinking. Other analyses, problematically, depict intentions ranging over others’ actions. I offer an analysis of collective intention which avoids these problems. A collective intention aims only at causing an individual action, but its propositional content stipulates its mirroring in other minds.


Collective intentionRationalityGamesCooperation

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Centre for Research Methods, School of Social SciencesUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK