Published online by Cambridge University Press: 24 November 2008
Consequentialist and Kantian theories differ over the ethical relevance of consequences of actions. I investigate how they might differ too over the relevance of what actions are consequence of. Focusing on the case of group action and collective responsibility, I argue that there's a kind of analog to the problem of aggregating the value of consequences—about aggregating responsibility with respect to the roles of cooperating agents—that Kantian theories will not confront and consequentialist theories will. The issue provides a useful way to characterize a deep difference between Kantian and consequentialist theories and points, ironically, toward a way of making those views compatible.
1 Quoted in the New York Times, September 2, 2007.
2 I will not trace the implications of the issue for the position of virtue ethics or of other views relative to consequentialist and deontological theories.
7 This can be true in tennis, for example, if one wins a set 6-4, having won six games after deuce and lost four at love.
8 Mark Greenberg usefully suggested the examples of zombies and sleepwalkers: it is plausible that complications about their moral status are related to their not being conscious.
9 Williams, Bernard, “Persons, Character, and Morality,” in Rorty, Amélie, ed., The Identities of Persons (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976), 214Google Scholar.
11 See, e.g., Kim, Jaegwon, Mind in a Physical World (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000)Google Scholar. I myself find the inegalitarian attitude implausible and believe it may even, in a way, reverse the appropriate order.
12 Hume, David, Treatise of Human Nature, ed. Selby-Bigge, L. A., 2d ed., revised and edited by Nidditch, P. H. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), book 1, part 4Google Scholar.
13 Pettit, Philip, “Groups with Minds of Their Own,” in Schmitt, Frederick, ed., Socializing Metaphysics (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003), 167–93Google Scholar.
16 Indeed, there has been a great deal of recent literature on related issues. For a few examples, see Dietrich, Franz, “A Generalized Model of Judgment Aggregation,” Social Choice and Welfare 28, no. 4 (2007): 529–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Dietrich, Franz and List, Christian, “Arrow's Theorem in Judgment Aggregation,” Social Choice and Welfare 29, no. 1 (2007): 19–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Dietrich, Franz and List, Christian, “Judgment Aggregation by Quota Rules: Majority Voting Generalized,” Journal of Theoretical Politics 19 (2007): 391–424CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Gärdenfors, Peter, “An Arrow-like Theorem for Voting with Logical Consequences,” Economics and Philosophy 22, no. 2 (2006): 181–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar; van Hees, Martin, “The Limits of Epistemic Democracy,” Social Choice and Welfare 28, no. 4 (2007): 649–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Kornhauser, Lewis and Sager, Lawrence, “The Many as One: Integrity and Group Choice in Paradoxical Cases,” Philosophy and Public Affairs 32 (2004): 249–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar; List, Christian, “Group Knowledge and Group Rationality: A Judgment Aggregation Perspective,” Episteme 2, no. 1 (2005): 25–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar; List, Christian, “The Probability of Inconsistencies in Complex Collective Decisions,” Social Choice and Welfare 24, no. 1 (2005): 3–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar; List, Christian, “The Discursive Dilemma and Public Reason,” Ethics 116 (2006): 362–402CrossRefGoogle Scholar; List, Christian and Pettit, Philip, “On the Many as One,” Philosophy and Public Affairs 33, no. 4 (2005): 377–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Pauly, Marc and van Hees, Martin, “Logical Constraints on Judgment Aggregation,” Journal of Philosophical Logic 35, no. 6 (2006): 569–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
17 Pettit, “Groups with Minds of Their Own,” 175.
20 The practical character of this pressure is, on my view, an argument for an important difference (noted earlier) between an individual with inconsistent beliefs (of which he is aware) and a group with inconsistent beliefs.
21 Pettit, “Groups with Minds of Their Own,” 176–77.
22 The thought, on Pettit's behalf, that it is constitutive of the group that is a person (having become one) to be rational—in distinction to the group that is not a person—raises a difficulty about the group's taking on, anew, an essential property.
24 There are, I believe, significant residual differences.
25 Kornhauser and Sager, “The Many as One,” 252.
27 Copp, “On the Agency of Certain Collective Entities,” 218.
28 See Bratman, Michael, “Shared Intention,” Ethics 104 (1993): 97–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Bratman, , “Dynamics of Sociality,” Midwest Studies in Philosophy 30 (2006): 1–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Margaret Gilbert, “The Structure of the Social Atom: Joint Commitment as the Foundation of Human Social Behavior,” in Schmitt, ed., Socializing Metaphysics, 39–64; and Searle, John, “Collective Intentions and Actions,” in Cohen, Philip, Morgan, Jerry, and Pollack, Martha, eds., Intentions in Communication (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990), 401–16Google Scholar.
29 I pursue the development of such a view in “Standard Bearers” (unpublished manuscript).
30 “Person” is a “forensick term,” in Locke's nice phrase; see Locke, John, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, ed. Nidditch, P. H. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), book II, chapter 27, sec. 26Google Scholar. And the appropriation of merit—what being forensic amounts to—is, for Locke, “founded in a concern for happiness, the unavoidable concomitant of consciousness; that which is conscious of pleasure and pain” (ibid.).