Identifying With Group Agents

Christian List and Philip Pettit

in Group Agency

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199591565
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725494 | DOI:
Identifying With Group Agents

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Every agent who acts on beliefs and desires has to act at some point on the desire to do X, as we say. This is not the desire, in the first person, that I, Christian or Philip, do X, since I may not know I am Christian or Philip, but the desire that I do X; I cannot fail to know that I am I. But not only do I have to act on such a first-personal desire; equipped with the resources of an expressive language, I can explicitly refer to myself as ‘I’ and form desires — this is Rousseau's amour propre — about how that agent should fare in comparison with others. The chapter outlines these ideas as they apply to individuals and extends them to group agents. In doing so, it elaborates the phenomenology of group agency, explaining how individual members have to think about the ‘we’ they represent in action and showing how there may be a collective as well as an individual form of amour propre: a form of group identification that may be affectively potent, even dangerous. But how can I, an individual member of various group agents, think of myself in different identities? And how can you and I, differently minded members of the same group, fashion the character of the group we each identify with? The chapter concludes with a discussion of these issues.

Keywords: identity; identification; amour propre

Chapter.  9101 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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