Joint Commitment: How We Make the Social World

Joint Commitment: How We Make the Social World

Margaret Gilbert

Language: English

Pages: 466

ISBN: 0190251956

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In this wide-ranging collection of essays, distinguished philosopher Margaret Gilbert investigates the structure of our social world. People often speak of what we do, think, and feel, and of our values, conventions, and laws. Asking what we mean by such talk, Gilbert invokes the foundational idea of joint commitment. She applies this idea to topics ranging from the mutual recognition of two people to the unity of the European Union, from marital love to patriotism, from promissory obligation to the rights of those who issue authoritative commands. Written clearly and without undue technicality, this richly textured collection of essays makes a powerful argument for the importance of joint commitment in our personal and public lives.

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obligations to continue their participation, in relation to which the other parties had corresponding rights. Though the present approach emphasizes rights it in no way denies the existence of correlative obligations. See the text below, section 8. Acting Together 27 for it. To that extent it resembles an agreement and serves the purpose that an agreement would have served, had the parties made one.10 Perhaps for this reason, there may be a temptation to say that the parties “implicitly

article takes off from remarks of my own. Velleman sees that there is a problem as to how “distinct intentions of different people can add up to a single token of intention, jointly held” (ibid.). He aims to solve this problem, that is, to show how distinct intentions of different people can indeed add up to a single token of intention jointly held. I cannot address his proposal directly here. It may come up against what seems to be a general problem with attempts to construct a Gilbertian joint

and acceptance as features of groups,” Protosociology (http://www.protosociology.de). There is now a burgeoning literature on the subject with contributions from (in alphabetical order) Alban Bouvier, Austen Clark, Christopher MacMahon, Anthonie Meijers, Frederick Schmitt, Deborah Tollefsen, Raimo Tuomela, K. Brad Wray and others. Gilbert, “Belief and acceptance” responds to proposals of Wray, Meijers, and Tuomela. 36 This has of course been done, and different proposals about moral statements

owes Frank her sobriety. She’s entered a joint commitment R ati onali t y i n C ol l ec tive   A c ti on 91 with him to the effect that she will abstain from alcohol in the future. How, then, could she reasonably judge that her personal inclination to drink is decisive from the point of view of what rationality requires? Perhaps her urge to drink is so strong that she will say, “I’ve simply got to have a drink.” She may mean simply that nothing is going to stop her, whatever the rational

metaphorical, or that they are understood to involve some kind of pretence. That they are of this kind, however, cannot simply be assumed. It needs to be argued or shown by reference to examples that make it clear. Sometimes it may be clear enough that those who make them do not see them as either metaphorical or as involving some kind of pretense. Again, it is possible that in all or some cases some kind of mistake is involved. This too will need to be argued. It will not do simply to insist

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