SOPhiA 2021

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Easy Ontology for Group Agency
(Metaphysics and Ontology, )

A We ordinarily talk about groups as performing various actions. For instance, we say things like "The Parliament passed a law" or "The Parliament wants to pass a law". This talk implies that groups have purposes, that they act in order to fulfil those purposes. If they act in order to fulfil a purpose, then groups are agents just like individuals. The problem I will discuss is whether there are such group agents. The problem is a controversial matter which does not receive a straightforward yes or no answer. For instance, Kirk Ludwig takes our reference to group agents not to be genuine and to be explained away by logical analysis. Frederick Schmitt argues that our reference to group agents cannot be explained away. Nevertheless, his view is that there are no group agents per se. I propose a discussion of group agency from a deflationist point of view, focusing on the problem of existence. Amie Thomasson proposes an easy approach to existence questions, i.e. existence deflationism. In her view, existence is not a complicated problem and there is no special property which reveals its nature and which we should investigate. This view is opposed to other approaches to existence deriving from a Quinean tradition. I argue that the discussion about group agency has been framed within a Quinean tradition. Furthermore, within this deflationist framework I investigate the way Thomasson's proposal can simplify the debates regarding group agents. First, the deflationist approach has the virtue to deliver a straightforward yes or no answer. Second, based on conceptual analysis and Thomasson's easy arguments concerning existence questions, the question whether there are group agents receives an affirmative answer and it also allows to keep a realist view with regards to group agency.

Chair: Blazej Mzyk
Time: 17:30-18:00, 09 September 2021 (Thursday)
Location: SR 1.003

Andreea Popescu 
(National School of Political and Administrative Studies, University of Bucharest, )

Testability and Meaning deco