Social Action, Collective Responsibility, and the Difficulties of Social Decision Making

Michael Kober


To begin with, an account of social action that includes weintentions, roles, attributions of rights and commitments, and a common conception of the ongoing practice will be outlined and motivated. Then, it will be shown that responsibility for the consequences of a particular common action will be distributed over the partaking members according to the role they played in the respective practice. Unfortunately, this distribution of responsibility cannot be used as a model of how a group is or should be developing decisions. Single individuals come up with decisions according to a mixed bag of internal and external motivators that may even change while the individual is carrying out the respective action. On this basis, it will finally be shown why certain groups that are differently organized in paradigmatic fashions (e.g. in strictly hierarchical, somehow democratic and totally anarchistic ways) may develop different and sometimes unpredictable decisions.


20th century philosophy; ethics; philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; collective decision making; collective guilt; collective intentionality; collective responsibility; rights and obligations; roles in action; social action

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