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Individuals and Collectivity between the Principle of noncontradiction and joint commitment


In this paper I pay attention to and reflect upon the role and the nature of the human being considered as an individual that acts in a collective dimension and thus contributes to build a social reality. What is required to talk of collectivity? Is it anything that goes beyond the interacting individuals or not? In order to talk of collectivity, do we need to talk of a plural subject as well as of collective beliefs, (as Margaret Gilbert does), or not? These are some questions that are addressed in my paper. In particular, I outline the view that the collectivity is the relationship among interacting individuals in the exercise of their own rationality. Consequently, I argue that the collectivity is built as a form of social interaction among and within the individuals, because there is a We-mode embodied in each individual through the dialectic and dialogic rational structure that is constitutive of her. This dialectic nature of the Individual implies the involvement of other individuals in the exercise of each individual's rationality, that is a collectivity as at least two or more human beings which think, speak, and act committing to any other through one’s own thoughts, words or actions. In this connection I refer to Aristotle’s principle of non-contradiction, built in a linguistic and dialogical form, to the transcendental-pragmatic nature of Habermas’ validity claims and to Gilbert's concepts of joint commitment and plural subject. In particular I will argue that the dialectic nature of each individual, which implies the involvement of other individuals as a collectivity, can be derived already from Aristotle's principle of non-contradiction and Habermas' validity claims. Indeed the dialectic and intersubjective nature of each individual itself provides the condition of the joint commitment, which Gilbert is right to believe to be the foundation of every collectivity, but it does not require to claim for a plural subject that should be coincident with the collectivity itself.