Ontological Holism Without Mental Holism

Bratman on Institutional Agency


  • Frank Hindriks University of Groningen




collective agent, institutional agent, mental holism, ontological holism, shared policy, social rule


In his recent book Shared and Institutional Agency, Bratman (2022) argues that institutional agents consist of social rules of procedure. Those rules are policies that are shared among many of their members. In this review essay, I argue that the theory can plausibly be interpreted in terms of ontological holism. It shows how a holistic theory can be constructed out of individualistic building blocks. At the same time, Bratman rejects mental holism, the idea being that institutional agents form only a limited range of mental states. Furthermore, he claims that they can perform actions literally for no reason. I propose that, if this is indeed possible, a morally accountable agent will avoid doing so.


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How to Cite

Hindriks, Frank. 2023. “Ontological Holism Without Mental Holism: Bratman on Institutional Agency”. Journal of Social Ontology 9 (1). Vienna, Austria:95-111. https://doi.org/10.25365/jso-2023-8099.



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