chapter  1
42 Pages

Individual and Group: Identity, Composition and Reduction

Social groups are composite material particulars individuated in virtue of their causal and explanatory role, and common understanding and treatment of them is consistent with general taxonomic practices. The ontological holism defended earlier does not entail any commitments about the moral treatment or analysis of groups. The consideration of the moral status and role of groups does presuppose holism in the acceptance that groups exist qua bodies, but the arguments for groups being regarded as apt for moral status, rights and responsibility are independent of that ontological background presupposition. A group can possess moral status: a group can figure in its own right in moral evaluations and practical reasoning, being amongst those things towards or in virtue of which may have obligations and duties. Moral individualism is a thesis about which entities deserve moral consideration, eliminating groups from the domain of those entities which can have moral status.