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Is Our Group An Agent? Do We Want It To Be?

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Christian List and Philip Pettit’s new book, Group Agency: The Possibility, Design, and Status of Corporate Agents, is an interesting, timely, and extremely clever synthesis of the deliverances of their recent technical work on the philosophical, moral and legal nature of group agents. Their meticulously developed ideal group agent provides an excellent starting point for analytic reflection on group agency, identity, epistemology, and responsibility. Insofar as it is their intent for their account to have real world consequences, their model provides a template for political associations, businesses, and civil society organizations. This review essay explains List and Pettit’s model and then points out two unattractive features. First, a bird’s eye view of the conditions required to achieve ideal group agency reveals limitations that may make it impossible to realize. Second, some of these groups, especially businesses and civil society organizations, will find the model unattractive, limiting its real world applicability.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy, United States Air Force Academy,


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