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Intenzionalità collettiva versus plural subject nel confronto tra Searle e Gilbert: influssi hobbesiani e rousseauiani nel dibattito contemporaneo su individualismo e collettivismo


At which conditions are we allowed to take a plurality of individuals as a collective or a social group? In this paper I address that question by considering the relationship between individuals and collectivity under the respect of the process by which the collectivity is being formed. I will take into account Margaret Gilbert’s theory of joint commitment and plural subject and John Searle’s theory of collective intentionality. In particular I will discuss their view on the phrase «individuals as a group», which bears an intrinsic tension between the individuals, treated as manifold and plural entities, and the group, treated as one singular entity. These theories do hold in common the attempt to go beyond the view that both the collective dimension is reducible to the individual dimension and that the collectivity is a subject endowed with a group mind. However, they give it a different articulation. I will submit an interpretation, then, to account for this difference. On the one hand, the We, which Searle ascribes to the collective intentionality, stems from the cooperation between two or more individuals and is founded on the fact that they remain irreducible to the constitution of the We. On the other hand, in Gilbert's theory the concept of the joint commitment attributes a fundamental role to the plurality and irreducibility of individuals, but the concept of the plural subject is in fact consistent with a strong collectivism according to which We is something unique, absolute and supra-individual.