Individual and Collective Agency and Freedom

As a person dismissive of individual human agency, of course, I am not going to rate the probability of collective agency highly. However, I am very drawn to this topic because I am sure there will be attempts to make parallels and connexions between the individual and the collectives. My guess is that attacks by those who support individual agency yet deny collective agency will pose arguments that will in the end undermine their own position that they will nonetheless cling to.

Colloquium Poster

This event is being broadcast on Zoom on 21 through 23 July 2022 from 17:00 – 21:00 Tawain Time (GMT +8).

Conversational topics will be (i) The Reality of Free Will and (ii) The Loci of Responsibility, two topics near and dear to my interest.

Details can be read here:

A colleague had this to add.

A question that exercises the minds of philosophers is the existential status and role of groups and collectives. Do ‘forests’ exist, or are there just trees in proximity? Do “herds” exist, or are there just elephants? Perhaps the answers to these questions are of little consequence, but there are other, more interesting questions like, for example:

Do collectives act as single units, and if so, how? Do properties of individuals ‘scale’? For example, we readily attribute consciousness and intelligence to individual humans, can we also attribute consciousness and intelligence to a committee, or community? How is a collective conscious or intelligent? Also, individuals have ‘agency’ – they can/do exercise their individual “will” – but does a collective have a “will”, or “agency”? Does a large population of agents (a ‘country’, say) have a ‘will’ of its own? Does a country have ‘free will’,, and ‘know’ what it is ‘doing’? Do such questions even make sense?

On July 21-23, the National Taiwan University is holding a mini-conference about such “social ontology” conundrums, via ZOOM:, Zoom room ID:989 4199 5734


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