Philosophical Foundations of Group Rationality
TWCF Number
Project Duration
August 1 / 2022
- July 31 / 2024
Core Funding Area
Big Questions
North America
Amount Awarded

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Colin Allen
Institution University of Pittsburgh

Can groups make rational decisions, even when individuals within that group are irrational? A new project from a team led by Colin Allen of the University of Pittsburgh's Department of History and Philosophy of Science, will address the following questions: 

  • How can the notion of group rationality be justified?
  • Are there many notions of group rationality, or can they all be unified in a single overarching theory?
  • Can the theory be extended to the rationality of representation as well as the rationality of decision?
  • How can principles of rational group design be used to improve the functioning of groups?

This project aims to provide a robust and conceptually concise philosophical foundation through which particular claims about group rationality in cells, animals, humans, and machines can all be understood.

A series of publications and an eventual book project are envisioned and the researchers are planning two key initial papers. The first is to be a high-impact publication featuring a foundational account of rationality in group contexts. The second will focus on the "design of human-machine sociotechnical systems.”

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