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Group Agency: the possibility, design, and status of corporate agents

Christian List and Philip Pettit
Oxford University Press (7 April 2011)

Are companies, churches, and states genuine agents? Or are they just collections of individual agents that give a misleading impression of unity? This question is important, since the answer dictates how we should explain the behaviour of these entities and whether we should treat them as responsible and accountable on the model of individual agents.

Group Agency offers a new approach to that question and is relevant, therefore, to a range of fields from philosophy to law, politics, and the social sciences. Christian List and Philip Pettit argue that there really are group or corporate agents, over and above the individual agents who compose them, and that a proper approach to the social sciences, law, morality, and politics must take account of this fact. Unlike some earlier defences of group agency, their account is entirely unmysterious in character and, despite not being technically difficult, is grounded in cutting-edge work in social choice theory, economics, and philosophy.

  • Christian List is professor of political science and philosophy at LSE.

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Group Agency