Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Humanities and Social Inquiry


Group agents are collective structures involving multiple individuals who act according to the group’s irreducible norms. These structures include businesses, political parties, charitable organisations, and universities – clearly important and often dominant systems in our social and political lives. These are often necessary and do tremendous amounts of good for us, however they are also capable of causing tremendous environmental destruction, misrepresenting their aims, exploiting us, and selfishly reshaping epistemic pursuits for their own ends. Additionally, it is often unclear what we can do about the harmful behaviours of group agents, despite the fact that the groups that I am here interested in are comprised predominantly of (and hence ontologically dependent on) individual humans. I therefore aim first to give a detailed ontological account of group agency based on the enactive theory of agency. The purpose of this is to improve our understanding of the behaviour of group agents, especially by illuminating the mechanisms that dictate the aims of groups and their chosen courses of action in pursuing those aims. I then use this ontological account to address or highlight some practical problems in social and political philosophy and social epistemology. In doing so, I demonstrate the usefulness of the enactive theory of group agency beyond borders rarely so explicitly crossed in social ontology.

FoR codes (2008)




Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.