Re: Re: The "Group-Entity" Illusion
Wed, 20 Jan 1999 13:46:00 EST

The issue with regard to collective entities made up of humans is not whether they exist in some sense. The question is whether they have sufficient coherence to entertain cognitive states. Perhaps it makes sense to say of some small and purely voluntaristic organizations, such as partnerships or clubs, that they think, believe, and act (though I think even that usage goes too far). But whole societies fail utterly to behave like individuals.

Notwithstanding the incoherence of large social collectives, certain individuals, for reasons of public choice, find it advantageous to attribute cognitive states to them. I like to make light of this with a little joke: "As a society," the politician said, "I have decided . . . ."

Comparative references to how cells make up bodies or how dots make up a photograph thus do not resolve the question at hand. Neither cells nor dots nor, for that matter, photos, entertain cognitive states. We individual humans do,

Ian Goddard wrote:

> So the question is: Is the photo an illusion?
> If yes, the collective entity is an illusion.
> If no, then the collective entity is real.

T.0. Morrow