This paper offers a comparison of three different kinds of collective attitudes: aggregate, common, and corporate attitudes. They differ not only in their relationship to individual attitudes—e.g., whether they are “reducible” to individual attitudes—but also in the roles they play in relation to the collectives to which they are ascribed. The failure to distinguish them can lead to confusion, in informal talk as well as in the social sciences. So, the paper’s message is an appeal for disambiguation.
KeywordsGroup Agent Female Genital Mutilation Individual Attitude Aggregation Rule Common Attitude
This paper is based on a talk (offering a review of the relevant conceptual terrain) that I have given on multiple occasions: at a conference on the “Epistemic Life of Groups”, Institute of Philosophy, London, March 2011; at a CSMN Symposium on “Social ontology and collective agency”, University of Oslo, May 2011; at the workshop on “Group Agency and Collective Intentionality”, University of Vienna, May 2012; at the History Lab conference in London, June 2012; at a conference on “Principles in Practice”, University of Cambridge, June 2012; at a conference on “Epistemic groups and collaborative research in science”, Nancy, December 2012; at a seminar in the LSE’s Anthropology Department, May 2013; and at the 2013 ECPR General Conference, Bordeaux, September 2013. I am grateful to the audiences at these events, Paul Egré, Laura Valentini, the editors, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments, and to Alexandru Baltag and Andrés Perea for discussion. Furthermore, I am greatly indebted to Philip Pettit, with whom I have had numerous conversations on the present topic in the context of our collaborative work.
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