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Is collective intentionality really primitive?

Abstract : In his book, The Construction of Social Reality, Searle sets out to show how complex social phenomena can be accounted for using a limited number of conceptual tools. One of these tools is the notion of collective intentionality. Searle argues that collective intentionality is irreducible to individual intentional behavior and should be considered as a biologically primitive phenomenon, backed up by specific Background capacities. In this paper, I discuss Searle's account of collective intentionality and its links to his further commitments to individualism and to internalism. I point out certain shortcomings of the account. Although I agree with Searle that collective intentionality is irreducible to individual intentionality in a certain sense, I do not think that collective intentionality must be either reducible to individual intentionality or biologically primitive. I outline an alternative account of collective intentionality based on a proposal made by Bratman which, I argue, overcomes some of these shortcomings without being subject to the objections Searle addresses to reductive analyses. I discuss the capacities needed to sustain collective intentionality according to this alternative account. Finally, I briefly examine what becomes of Searle's requirements of individualism and internalism on this account.
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Contributor : Elisabeth Pacherie <>
Submitted on : Saturday, March 12, 2005 - 2:40:40 PM
Last modification on : Friday, July 2, 2021 - 9:58:02 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Monday, September 20, 2010 - 1:53:29 PM


  • HAL Id : ijn_00000238, version 2



Elisabeth Pacherie. Is collective intentionality really primitive?. 2005. ⟨ijn_00000238v2⟩



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