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A Constitutive Account of Group Agency

In their book "Group Agency" (OUP 2011) Christian List and Philip Pettit develop an account of group agency which is based on a functional understanding of agency. They claim that understanding organizations such as commercial corporations, governments, political parties, churches, universities as group agents helps us to a better understanding of the normative status and working of those organizations. List and Pettit, however, fail to provide a unified account of group agency since they do not show how the functional and the normative side of agency are connected. My claim is that a constitutive account of agency helps us to a proper understanding of group agency since it ties the functional part of acting to the group agent’s self-understanding and its commitment to specific norms, principles and values. A constitutive model of agency meets much better what List and Pettit seek to accomplish, namely conceiving of group agents as artificial persons, constituted by normative principles and entertaining normative relations to others to whom they are accountable.

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