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Gilbert, Margaret, , . Walking Together: A Paradigmatic Social Phenomenon
1990, Midwest Studies in Philosophy 15(1): 1-14.
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Abstract: The everyday concept of a social group is approached by examining the concept of going for a walk together, an example of doing something together, or ‘shared action’. Two analyses requiring shared personal goals are rejected, since they fail to explain how people walking together have obligations and rights to appropriate behaviour, and corresponding rights of rebuke. An alternative account is proposed: those who walk together must constitute the ‘plural subject’ of a goal (roughly, their walking alongside each other). The nature of plural subjecthood, the thesis that social groups are plural subjects, and the relation of these ideas to Rousseau’s and Hobbes’s, are briefly explored.

Comment: The article uses a clear example to explore shared agency. It is both an accessible and fundamental paper for the discourse on collective intentionality, and as such it is ideal as an introduction to those topics. It is also a good addition for courses on social ontology.

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