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Acting Together

Christopher Kutz
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research
Vol. 61, No. 1 (Jul., 2000), pp. 1-31
DOI: 10.2307/2653401
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2653401
Page Count: 31
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Acting Together
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Abstract

Collective action is a widespread social phenomenon, ranging from intricate duets to routinized, hierarchical cooperation within bureaucratic structures. Standard accounts of collective action (such as those offered by Bratman, Gilbert, Searle, and Tuomela and Miller) have attempted to explain cooperation in the context of small-scale, inter-dependent, egalitarian activities. Because the resulting analyses focus on the intricate networks of reciprocal expectation present in these contexts, they are less useful in explaining the nature of collective action in larger or more diffuse social contexts. I argue here instead for a minimalist account of collective action, which explains collective action across a broad range of contexts by reference to individuals' overlapping "participatory intentions," i.e., intentions to do one's part in a collective act. Participatory intentions are, formally, simply species of individual instrumental intentions, although their objects make irreducible reference to collective acts.

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