Corporate Agency: The Lesson of the Discursive Dilemma

Philip Pettit*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter deals with a distinction between aggregate agency, shared agency, and corporate agency. The idea of corporate agency is exciting insofar as it suggests that the agents in the social world are not restricted, as they may seem to be within our folk ways of thinking, to individual people. Thomas Hobbes certainly thought that it was possible to make corporate agency intelligible in individualistic terms, thereby vindicating its reality. While corporate agency is real by this account, it relates to individual agency as a fiction relates to the real thing; the account makes the phenomenon intelligible in a way that reduces the excitement attaching to the idea. Corporate agency is likely to be exciting, as suggested earlier, insofar as it means that incorporated groups can count, in the same way as individual human beings, as bona fide agents. Every corporate agent will be an artificial entity, of course, and will lack many of the features that distinguish natural persons.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Collective Intentionality
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781317666851
ISBN (Print)9781138783638
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


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