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GRoup thinking: new fOUNDationS

Project description

Exploring collective attitudes towards the formulation of facts

People tend to intentionally assign attitudes, like beliefs or preferences, to individuals and also to groups. Statements that ascribe attitudes to collectives, such as 'ordinary people want…', are used by media and public figures and can also be found in numerous theoretical models in the social sciences. This, however, can be easily contested and requires more rigorous foundations in theory. In this context, the EU-funded GROUNDS project will transform our understanding of collective representation, its nature and its significance and build new foundations for collective attitudes and representational states (group belief and group desire). The project will develop and defend a substantive, realist interpretationism, by revealing the underlying unity between the facts that constitute the beliefs and desires of individuals, and the facts that constitute the beliefs and desires of groups.


This project builds new foundations for collective attitudes and representational states: group belief and group desire. The
platform is the PI’s recent advances in the metaphysics of representation for individual representational states, where he
develops and defends a substantive, realist interpretationism: (i) what it is to believe/desire that p is for the selected
interpretation to attribute that belief/desire to them; (ii) the selected interpretation is that which makes the subject most
reason-responsive, given the way they act and the evidence available to them. This project leverages this work to construct
a common structure for the metaphysics of group representation and individual representation, isolating parameters that
differentiate the cases and theorizing the distinctive ingredients of the group case.
The first phase of the work places group representation in context, studying the theoretical deployments of group attitudes,
and dependencies between accounts of individual representation, group representation and linguistic representation. The
second phase lays the basis on which interpretations of individuals and groups are selected---individual and joint action,
and individual and joint evidence. An account of such facts must be given prior to and independent of belief and desire, on
pain of circularity in the overall account. The third phase examines the relation between foundations of representation and
metaphysics of persistence---required if the basis for interpretation is to be modally and temporally extended. The fourth
shows how key issues in the theory of normative reasons will impact the metaphysics of content, given appeal to reasons responsiveness at the heart of the account. The fifth phase identifies the boundaries between realist and anti-realist accounts of group thought.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 997 959,00
LS2 9JT Leeds
United Kingdom

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Yorkshire and the Humber West Yorkshire Leeds
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 997 959,00

Beneficiaries (1)