The Boys Carried the Piano Upstairs

Reconsidering Akratic Action in Group Contexts
  • Beatrice Kobow
Part of the Studies in the Philosophy of Sociality book series (SIPS, volume 1)


This chapter suggests taking a new look at akrasia in group actions. The results of such an investigation contribute to a better understanding of what it means to act as a free agent in a group context and to an evaluation of non-intended consequences and outcomes of group actions.

The initial discussion of the single agent’s akratic action alone and in group contexts suggests to focus on the intentional stance of the agent, not on her self-evaluation or rationality constraints. The distinction between strong and weak cases of akrasia highlights how weak akrasia is a symptom of free agency.

This yields an interesting argument against the account of groups as single agents (vs. Pettit, and Hess in the proposed volume). In considering the possibility of akrasia for groups as quasi-single-agents, the result is negative: groups cannot act akratically. Their “actions” are bound by external force since they rely on intentionality derived from agents that initiate or maintain them, no matter what the present mental states of these agents might be. Yet, if groups are not free to act akratically, they cannot act at all, and hence are not proper agents.


Single Agent Group Agent Group Context Musical Piece Full Sense 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Am See 1KonstanzGermany
  2. 2.Institut für PhilosophieUniversität LeipzigLeipzigGermany

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