Philosophical Studies

, Volume 175, Issue 1, pp 261–276 | Cite as

What do aggregation results really reveal about group agency?

  • Brian FlanaganEmail author


Discoveries about attitude aggregation have prompted the re-emergence of non-reductionism, the theory that group agency is irreducible to individual agency. This paper rejects the revival of non-reductionism and, in so doing, challenges the preference for a unified account, according to which, agency, in all its manifestations, is rational. First, I offer a clarifying reconstruction of the new argument against reductionism (due to Christian List and Philip Pettit). Second, I show that a hitherto silent premise, namely, that an identified group intention need not be determined by member attitudes according to a rule, e.g., majority, is false. Third, I show that, on rejecting this premise, the aggregation results lead instead to the conclusion that, in contrast to individual agency, group agency is non-rational.


Group agency Collective intentionality Judgement aggregation Social ontology Reductionism Discursive dilemma 



For comments on earlier drafts of this paper, I am grateful to Shane Glackin and an anonymous referee. This work was developed with the financial support of a Fulbright Scholar Award and a New York University School of Law Hauser Research Scholarship.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LawMaynooth UniversityMaynoothIreland

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