Cognition, Value and Behavior

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Lecture Series 2018/19


Location: MKE, Munich Centre for Ethics, M210, LMU main building, Geschwister-Scholl-Platz1

Time: 6:00 - 7:30 p.m.

Talks are followed by dinner with the speaker (at your own expense).

  • 7 Dec 2018: Christian List (LSE): "Group Agency and Group Consciousness"
  • 24 Jan 2019 : Fiorella Battaglia (LMU): "Should We Be Engaged in Establishing the 'Right not to Be Subject to Automated Decision-Making'?"
  • 25 Apr 2019: Natalie Gold (Oxford): "Team Reasoning and Collective Values"
  • 9 May 2019: Michael Pauen (Berlin): "Power, Social Intelligence, and Right-Wing Populism"
  • 16 May 2019: Nick Chater (Warwick): "Virtual Bargaining: a Microfoundation for the Theory of Social Interaction" - jointly organised with MCMP
  • 11 June 2019: Cristina Bicchieri (UPenn): "The Dynamics of Norm Erosion"
  • 11 July 2019: Benedetto de Martino (UCL): title tbc


Christian List (LSE): "Group Agency and Group Consciousness"

Under certain conditions, groups can be intentional, goal-directed agents in their own right, over and above their individual members. They behave in ways that lend themselves to intentional explanation, in much the same way in which we explain the behaviour of individuals as goal-directed agents. Examples of group agents are corporations, courts, NGOs, and even entire states. But should we also accept that there is such a thing as group consciousness? I will give an overview of some of the key issues in this debate and argue that group agents lack phenomenal consciousness. My argument suggests that group agents have minds in one sense (a functionalist one), but not in another (a phenomenological one). I conclude by pointing out a normative implication of my argument.

Nick Chater, Jennifer Misyak, Tigran Melkonyan & Hossam Zeitoun (Behavioural Science Group, Warwick Business School): Virtual bargaining: A microfoundation for the theory of social interaction

How can people coordinate their actions or make joint decisions? One possibility is that each person attempts to predict the actions of the other(s), and best-responds accordingly. But this can lead to bad outcomes, and sometimes even vicious circularity. An alternative view is that each person attempts to work out what the two or more players would agree to do, if they were to bargain explicitly. If the result of such a "virtual" bargain is "obvious," then the players can simply play their respective roles in that bargain. I suggest that virtual bargaining is essential to genuinely social interaction (rather than viewing other people as instruments), and may even be uniquely human. This approach aims to respect methodological individualism, a key principle in many areas of social science, while explaining how human groups can, in a very real sense, be "greater" than the sum of their individual members.