The weak collective agential autonomy thesis

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Abstract

Can a collective be an agent in its own right? Can it be the bearer of moral and other properties that we have traditionally reserved for individual agents? The answer, as one might expect, is ‘In some ways yes, in other ways no.’ The way in which the answer is ‘Yes’ has been described recently by Copp; I intend to discuss his position and defend it against objections. This describes a fairly weak form of autonomy that I will claim does not require the abandonment of methodological individualism or our commonplace intuitions about individual responsibility. I will also discuss, and reject, a stronger conception of autonomy suggested especially by the work of Pettit that would result in methodological individualism.

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