Volume 80, 2006
Intelligence and the Philosophy of Mind
H. M. Giebel
The Separate Minds of Church and State
Collective Mental States and Th eir Unsettling Implications
Claims regarding collective or group mental states are fairly commonplace: we speak of things like the belief of the Church, the will of the faculty, and the opinion of the Supreme Court, often without considering what such claims really mean and whether they are true in any interesting sense. In this paper I take a threefold approach: first, I articulate several ways in which a group might be said to have beliefs and other mental states. Second, I explore the implications, positive and negative, of these accounts of collective mental states. Third, I give a brief defense of my own view despite its somewhat disturbing implications for our membership in Church, State, and other groups.