Structuralism about Group Agency
Thriving philosophical disputes revolve around the question as to whether social groups can be agents. I argue that, in order to understand what turns social groups into agents, we need to grasp their metaphysical structure. The point is made by connecting Ritchie’s structuralist ontology (2018) with a widely received account of group agency proposed, among others, by List and Pettit (2011). I suggest that structuralism offers a helpful scheme for approaching group agency and that it provides the right template to individuate agentive properties of different kinds. In particular, following Ritchie’s view, I take social groups to be realizations of social structures, where structures are made social by their constitutive dependence on social factors. I go on to elaborate that, as social factors can be either internal or external to any particular group, agentive properties can be either intrinsic or extrinsic depending on whether the structure is based on internal or external social factors. This shows that since the received account analyzes group agency without relying on structuralist considerations, it cannot appreciate the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic properties and count properties of both kinds as essential. A structuralist account will then contribute to an improved understanding of group agency.
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