Individual and Collective Action: Reply to Blomberg


  • Kirk Ludwig Indiana University


collective action, shared intention, singular action sentences, plural action sentences, logical form


Olle Blomberg challenges three claims in my book From Individual to Plural Agency (Ludwig, Kirk (2016): From Individual to Plural Agency: Collective Action 1. Vols. 2. Oxford: Oxford University Press.). The first is that there are no collective actions in the sense in which there are individual actions. The second is that singular action sentences entail that there is no more than one agent of the event expressed by the action verb in the way required by that verb (the sole agency requirement). The third, is that an individual intention, e.g. to build a boat, is not satisfied if you don’t do it yourself. On the first point, I grant that Blomberg identifies an important distinction between simple and composite actions the book did not take into account, but argue it doesn’t show that there are collective actions in the same sense there are individual actions. On the second point, I argue from examples that the collective reading of plural action sentences doesn’t entail the distributive reading, which requires the sole agency requirement on singular action sentences. This settles the third point, since it entails that if you intend to build a boat, you are successful only if you are the only agent of it in the sense required by the verb.


Blomberg, Olle (2011): “Socially Extended Intentions-in-Action”. In: Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2. No. 2, p. 335–353.

Davidson, Donald (2001): “Agency”. In: Essays on Actions and Events. New York: Clarendon Press, p. 43–62. Original edition, 1971.

Ludwig, Kirk (2016): From Individual to Plural Agency: Collective Action 1. Vols. 2. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Roth, Abraham Sesshu (2004): “Shared Agency and Contralateral Commitments”. In: Philosophical Review 113. No. 3, p. 359–410.




How to Cite

Ludwig, Kirk. 2019. “Individual and Collective Action: Reply to Blomberg”. Journal of Social Ontology 5 (1). Vienna, Austria:125-46.



Book Discussions