A1 Journal article (refereed)
The Problem of the First Belief : Group Agents and Responsibility (2020)

Hirvonen, O. (2020). The Problem of the First Belief : Group Agents and Responsibility. Journal of Social Ontology, 6(1), 1-20. https://doi.org/10.1515/jso-2019-0029

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Hirvonen, Onni

Journal or series: Journal of Social Ontology

ISSN: 2196-9655

eISSN: 2196-9663

Publication year: 2020

Publication date: 27/08/2020

Volume: 6

Issue number: 1

Pages range: 1-20

Publisher: Walter de Gruyter GmbH

Publication country: Germany

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jso-2019-0029

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/71589


Attributing moral responsibility to an agent requires that the agent is a capable member of a moral community. Capable members of a moral community are often thought of as moral reasoners (or moral persons) and, thus, to attribute moral responsibility to collective agents would require showing that they are capable of moral reasoning. It is argued here that those theories that understand collective reasoning and collective moral agency in terms of collective decision-making and commitment – as is arguably the case with Christian List and Philip Pettit’s theory of group agency – face the so-called “problem of the first belief” that threatens to make moral reasoning impossible for group agents. This paper introduces three possible solutions to the problem and discusses the effects that these solutions have in regard to the possibility of attributing moral responsibility to groups.

Keywords: communities (organisations); groups; persons; beliefs; liability; human agency; morals; ethics; ontology (philosophy)

Free keywords: Christian List; collective beliefs; collective responsibility; group agency; moral personhood; Philip Pettit; philosophy; social ontology

Fields of science:

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-20-09 at 13:21