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Joint CommitmentHow We Make the Social World$
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Margaret Gilbert

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199970148

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199970148.001.0001

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Rationality in Collective Action

Rationality in Collective Action

(p.81) 4 Rationality in Collective Action
Joint Commitment

Margaret Gilbert

Oxford University Press

Two senses of “collective action” are discussed in this paper. To begin, “collective action” is interpreted as a matter of people doing something together, and it is assumed that such collective agency involves their having a collective intention to do that thing together. The author’s account of collective intentions is presented: at its core is her notion of joint commitment—a species of commitments of the will. Collective action problems in the sense of rational choice theory are then considered. These problems include the prisoner’s dilemma, which involves a degree of conflict of interest, and coordination problems, which do not. An explanation is given of how, when such a problem is interpreted in terms of the parties’ inclinations over possible outcomes, a suitable collective intention resolves the problem for agents who are rational in a broad sense other than the game-theoretical one.

Keywords:   Collective action, collective agency, collective action problems, commitments, coordination, inclinations, joint commitment, prisoner’s dilemma, rational choice theory, game theory

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