Group Minds and Collective Agency

August 10, 2023 - August 11, 2023
University of Leeds

United Kingdom

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  • European Research Council
  • International Social Ontology Society


University College, Cork


University of Leeds
University College Cork

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This workshop is organised by the ERC-funded research project Group Thinking: New Foundations ( at the University of Leeds and has received support by the International Social Ontology Society (ISOS) (  


Thursday, August 10th: 
10:30-11:00 arrival & opening
11:00-12:30 Keynote: Alessandro Salice: The minimal pre-conditions of joint action 
12:30-13:30 lunch break
13:30-14:30 Lily Tappe: When Corporations Should Have Known -Culpable Ignorance in Corporate Criminal Law
14:45-15:45 Max Gab: The Role Agency Account of Institutional Action
16:00-17:00 Joshua Habgood-Coote: A Joint Planning Theory of Directives

Friday, August 11th: 
09:30-11:00 Keynote: Robbie Williams: Functionalism about group evidence
11:00-11:30 coffee break
11:30-12:30 Daniel Garibay-Garcia:From Group Speech Acts Inflationism to Group Mental States Inflationism
12:30-13:30 lunch break
13:45-14:45 Lukas Schwengerer: We-mode as Layered Agency
15:00-16:00 Anita Semerani: Collective Ordinary Self-consciousness
16:15-17:00 wrap-up/roundtable 

When talking about social entities, such as societies, corporations, or nation-states we often attribute epistemic or moral capacities to them. We say that the “University Union has a moral obligation to initiate industrial action”, or that “the IPCC knows that climate change is predominantly anthropogenic”. To treat at least some of these attributions as genuine and non-metaphorical is to understand social entities to be proper bearers of the relevant attitudes; whereby it is often assumed that only collectives with a sufficient agential structure and decision-making procedures are of this kind. However, relying on diverging notions of agency places vastly different constraints on the entities in consideration and requires diverging implicit assumptions about their ontology. While some treat group agents as merely deflationary, others think of them as being independent in a stronger inflationary sense, as ‘over and above’ their members thus as having ‘minds of their own’. This raises general questions about the nature of (collective) agency, its ontology and its relation to (collective) phenomenal consciousness.

We invite submissions consindering questions such as:

  • Shall all ‘structured collectives’ be understood as collective epistemic agents?
  • If there are collective epistemic agents, how does their agency differ from individual agency?

  • How do we model and rationalize collective agency and collective agential behaviour?

  • What kind of mental capacities are required for collective agency?

  • Can there be group phenomenal consciousness?

  • What are the ethical, legal and political implications arising from various views about the ontology of collective entities?

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Universidade Federal do Ceará

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