Theiner and O'Connor (2010)

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Title The Emergence of Group Cognition
Resource Type collection article
Author(s) Timothy O'Connor, Georg Theiner
Year 2010
Collection Corradini and O'Connor (2010)
Pages 78-120


The Group Mind Thesis—understood as the claim that groups as a whole can be the subjects of mental states—was a popular idea in the intellectual landscape of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.2 For many scientists and philosophers of that period, it provided a succinct expression of what they perceived to be two characteristic features of groups: on the one hand, their ability to function as collective agents who can have intentions, make decisions, and pursue their own goals; on the other hand, the idea that groups are emergent wholes which are more than the sum of its members. Combine the two features, and the functional analogies between individual and group behavior strongly suggest adopting an intentional stance towards both.