Massively shared responsibility (Seminar)


  • Start: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 3:00:00 PM CET


Seminar on Language and Communication

Tuesday, March 15, 15:00

Zvonko Diaz (ILCLI)

Venue: Carlos Santamaria Zentroa, Room 1


The notion of "massively shared agency" (Shapiro 2014) refers to the enormous scale of modern social life, in which shared agency is typically involved by a crowd of participants both organized in a non-egalitarian manner (i.e. within authority structures) and not necessarily committed with the success of the activity (i.e. "alienated"). An instance of these large-scale activities is industrial production of commodities, in which thousands of workers in several different countries are involved in a corporate activity without (at least necessarily) fulfilling the strict conditions ("joint commitment", forming a "plural subject", acting "as a body") usually required by some action theorists (e.g. Gilbert 2013).
Now, given that some of the conditions for and consequences of such activities can be arguably taken as harmful (from human exploitation to ecological damage), and thus (in principle) both susceptible of moral evaluation and accountability, the aim of this presentation will be to explore (1) the possibility and conditions for imputing and distributing (collective?) responsibility in cases of massively shared agency; by means of an analysis of (2) the conceptual elements (goals, intentions, plans, membership, etc.) necessary to account for the structure of such kind of activities, and of (3) some general conditions, varieties and features involved in "collective responsibility".
My attempt will also take into account some other features necessarily linked with both these productive actions and (maybe) the collective responsibility for its harmful effects (namely, the sphere of consumption which actually guarantees the reproduction of the former). Thus, some speculative statements on the problem of holding non-coordinated collectivities (e.g. global consumers) responsible (sympathetic with Lawford-Smith 2015) will be advanced.


Gilbert, Margaret (2013) Joint Commitment. How We Make the Social World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lawford-Smith, Holly (2015) "What we?"  Journal of Social Ontology, 1(2): 225–249.
Shapiro, Scott (2014), "Massively Shared Agency" in Vargas & Yaffe (eds.) Rational and Social Agency. The Philosophy of Michael Bratman, 257-293, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

(Attendance is free, but it should be notified in advance to