An inquiry into the nature of group agency and individual agency : a study of rational autonomy.
Zimunya, Clive Tendai.
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Human agency entails being able to rationalize over decisions, passing judgements and executing actions based on these deliberations. All these rationalizations and executions flow from a principle of rational autonomy. Rational autonomy entails that the agent is able to analyse propositions about the world from an informed explanatory and conceptual framework, and execute actions based on such judgements. If the agent’s rational autonomy is heavily constrained by outside factors such that the agent does not have any alternative courses of actions than the one the external influences suggest, then their agency appears to be diminished. In this thesis I explore the nature of agency that arises from a group of people that has assumed agent status. I argue that such groups come to form what can be called a group agent, whose reasoning and execution of actions follows immediately from the members that constitute it. I demonstrate that members of group agents have their own individual agency diminished due to the group’s restrictions over their rational autonomy and analyse the implications of such restrictions on their moral responsibility. I also explore the possibility of group agent status being accorded to societies and argue that there are certain societal groups that possess group agent traits. Against this background I demonstrate that members of such societies have their agency diminished since the thought patterns that inform their rational autonomy are heavily constrained by the group.