Program

Program

Collective Action & the Law

15 September 2016

9:30 – 11:00
Sara Rachel Chant, Tulane University
Responsibility Unincorporated

COMMENTS: Jules Salomone, CUNY
CHAIR: Teresa Marques, University Pompeu Fabra
ABSTRACT
Collective action theory is modeled after the best accounts of individual action theory. This means that if what distinguishes individual actions from non-actional events depends on individual intentions and other mental states, then what distinguishes collective actions from mere collections of actions depends on collective intentions and other collective mental states. Due to this methodology, nearly all recent inquiries into collective moral responsibility worry that if moral responsibility attaches to the collective as such and not simply to the individuals who compose it, then collectives must be distinct moral agents with ‘minds of their own.’ Thus, it seems that we have the following dilemma: either accept the existence of collective agents and group minds or reject the possibility of genuinely collective moral responsibility. Unfortunately, anyone who takes the standard ‘collectivizing’ approach is faced with worries considerably worse. On this approach, collective responsibility might depend not only on collective agency, but also on a collective free will. This paper offers a counterexample to the claim that collective responsibility depends on collective free will. Rather than anchoring collective responsibility in the metaphysics of freedom, collective moral responsibility in best understood in virtue of the epistemic states of the individuals in the group. By rejecting the standard methodology, we may build a theory in which collective moral responsibility may be had by incorporated agents and random ‘unincorporated’ collections of individuals.

11:00 – 11:30 Coffee Break

11:30 – 13:00
Brian Flanagan, Maynooth University
Rational Group Agents

COMMENTS: Samuele Chilovi, University of Barcelona
CHAIR: Sara Chant, Tulane University
ABSTRACT
A unified rational model of individual and group agency is standardly assumed.  It underpins an influential new argument, due to Christian List and Philip Pettit, that groups have minds of their own.  That argument, in turn, is prompting departures in contemporary political and moral theory.  The basis for the rational model of group agency is the claim that, like its individual-level counterpart, it is vindicated by practical discourse.  Despite the increasing philosophical interest in group action, however, this foundational claim has been accepted without scrutiny.  Drawing on references to the no-single-majority cases of the Supreme Court of the United States, I show the claim to be suspect.  The rational model of group agency is revealed, first, to be at odds with the ascription of non-rational group acts on an equal basis with rational acts (Part I).  Second, it is found to preclude the best account of discourse about the reasons applicable to acts of legal adjudication, namely, that it reflects engagement with the ineligibility of non-rational group acts as precedents (Part II).  In a theory of group action that is truly vindicated by practical discourse, rationality is a condition, not of agency, but merely of an act’s performance of associated roles.

13:00 – 14:30 Lunch

14:30 – 16:00

Sara Bernstein, Notre Dame University
Causal Proportions and Moral Responsibility

COMMENTS: Caroline Arruda, University of Texas at El Paso
CHAIR: Manuel García-Carpintero, University of Barcelona
ABSTRACT
This paper poses an original puzzle about the relationship between causation and moral responsibility called The Moral Difference Puzzle. Using the puzzle, the paper argues for three related ideas: (1) the existence of a new sort of moral luck; (2) an intractable conflict between the causal concepts used in moral assessment; and (3) inability of leading theories of causation to capture the sorts of causal differences that matter for moral evaluation of agents’ causal contributions to outcomes.

16:00 – 16:30 Coffee Break

16:30 – 18:00
Abe Roth, Ohio State University
Directed Duties and Shared Agency

COMMENTS: Manuel García-Carpintero, University of Barcelona
CHAIR: Carla Maenza, University Pompeu Fabra
ABSTRACT
What does it mean for a duty or obligation to be directed?  A duty to X appears to be a two-place relation holding between the agent and a type of action that is in some sense right or morally required.  Talk of directedness introduces a further relatum: some individual to whom the duty is owed.  Consider a standard example of a directed duty – the obligation to keep one’s promise (though the honoring of contracts and agreements might also serve as examples).  Suppose I promise to look in on an elderly couple.  This might be something I’m not otherwise obliged to do (assume that I’m not closely related to them, and that they have friends and relations who regularly see them).  Promising makes visiting morally obligatory for me.  Suppose, furthermore, that this is a promise that I make to my friend.  Then my obligation is to visit the elderly couple, but it is an obligation that is owed to my friend.
But thinking about paradigmatic cases such as the moral obligations generated by promises will take us only so far.  We will also need to think about shared agency, where some have discerned a similar phenomenon.  At the core of my understanding of shared agency is the idea that one individual can sometimes act directly on the intention of another.  This is crucial for my account of the distinctive mutual commitments or obligations between participants in shared activity, yielding an understanding of them not merely in terms of some rule of morality the activity falls under, but in terms of the rationality of intention-based commitment embodied in the activity itself.
With this understanding of shared agency in hand, I propose a new understanding of the directed obligations in promising.  Promissory and other forms of directed obligation are generally thought of as moral; but could it be that its directedness is not a specifically moral phenomenon?  Could it be that the directedness of promissory obligation is, rather, a fundamental normative feature of a distinctive form of agency – namely, agency that is shared?

16 September 2016

9:30 – 11:00
Kevin Toh, University College London
Collectivity and Law

COMMENTS: Andrej Kristan, University of Girona
CHAIR: Josejuan Moreso, University Pompeu Fabra
ABSTRACT
This paper sketches a way to deploy some resources from recent philosophical thinking about collective agency to address some longstanding problems in theorizing about the nature of law.  One problem has to do with reconciling the conventional nature of law with the apparent possibility of legal judgments that consciously buck established legal trends.  A second problem has to do with delineating the relation between law and coercion.   In addressing these two problems, I argue that we should conceive legal judgments as aimed at instigating and maintaining shared acceptance of norms.

11:00 – 11:30 Coffee Break

11:30 – 13:00
Bill Wringe, Bilkent University
Expressive Legal Punishment: Who Says What To Whom?

COMMENTS: José Luís Martí, University Pompeu Fabra
CHAIR: Mariona Rosell, University Pompeu Fabra
ABSTRACT
Many philosophers have been attracted to the view that legal punishment has an expressive dimension. However the question of who exactly is the subject of penal expression has been neglected. If punishment expresses something, who exactly is doing the expressing? One plausible answer to this question is that the subject of penal expression is the state, conceived of as a collective agent. But showing that a plausible form of expressivism is compatible with a view of this sort is a non-trivial task. Elsewhere I have argued that expressivists should hold that the imposition of punishment is a way of communicating to this audience that a particular wrong-doer has infringed particular norm and that their doing so is a non-trivial matter. They should also take the audience to be the members of the political community in which the state is embodied. However, we might have qualms about whether it is coherent to think of a collective agent communicating with its members: I shall argue by analogy with a number of less contentious phenomena that it is. We may also wonder whether it is ethically permissible for a collective agent to use the harsh treatment of an offender as, a medium of communication. Again, I shall argue that it is, at least in the paradigmatic case of punishment – namely that of punishing an offender who is a member of the political community whose laws have been transgressed.

13:00 – 14:30 Lunch

14:30 – 16:00
Nicholas Almendares, Tulane University, and Dimitri Landa, New York University.
Joint Intention and Joint Criminal Responsibility

COMMENTS: Martin Glick, Göttingen University
CHAIR:
ABSTRACT
When should someone be held criminally responsible for the actions of another when there is no plausible control relationship between them? When the actus reus for the former is not present, the attribution to her of the responsibility for the actions of the latter must turn on establishing mens rea that ties her to those actions. In the absence of control, this attribution must run through establishing the presence of a joint intention for the criminal actions by the individual with the actus reus. The two prominent approaches to establishing responsibility in such cases, foreseeability and criminalization of the membership in a group, are problematic, in distinct ways and because they both entail a partial abandonment of mens rea. We propose an alternative approach, building on our counterfactual theory of joint intention (Almendares and Landa, Phil. Studies 2015). Our approach turns on the idea of standing in reserve – a willingness to step in and take an action to realize the joint project (e.g., in these cases, the jointly intended crime) if that action becomes pivotal. We characterize different types of standing in reserve, propose tests for the attribution of joint criminal responsibility consistent with them, and show how they can be used to develop liability claims in distinct classes of examples, including prosecutions of the members of terrorist sleeper cells, mafia members specializing in non-violent crime, and members of criminal organizations with non-criminal assignments..

16:00 – 16:30 Coffee Break

16:30 – 18:00
Natalie Gold, King’s College London
How should we characterise the reasoning involved in team reasoning?: Collective intentions, reasoning, and rationality

COMMENTS: Aurélien Darbellay, University of Barcelona
CHAIR: Teresa Marques, University Pompeu Fabra

ABSTRACT
I ask what the ‘reasoning’ in team reasoning consists of and how this relates to rationality and collective intentions. I present two approaches from the literature, associated with Raimo Tuomela and Susan Hurley, which I show can be characterised as ‘too much’ and ‘too little’ reasoning respectively. Then I present third account of reasoning, which I argue is ‘just right’ for explaining collective intentions as the result of team reasoning.

20:00  CONFERENCE DINNER 
Restaurant Kaiku

 

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