Problematic situations, preference change, and negotiations: A philosophical approach

Problematic situations, preference change, and negotiations: A philosophical approach
David Strohmaier


Department of Philosophy, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S10 2TN, UNITED KINGDOM.


For many of the large-scale problems facing humanity, individuals lack the power to address them on their own. We might call upon group agents such as states or corporations to solve them for us. Problems such as climate change, however, are of such a scope and magnitude that no single group agent can deal with them effectively. To achieve a cooperative solution, groups must negotiate with one another on how to address these problems. Contributing to our understanding of how humanity can deal with such large-scale problems, the present thesis offers a theory of negotiating group agents.

After an introduction, chapters two, three, and four offer a philosophical reconstruction of the sociological Negotiated Order approach. At the core of these chapters is a pragmatist theory of motivational change in social contexts, which I contrast with standard rational choice theory. The Negotiated Order approach argues that many social phenomena, such as organisations, function based on motivational change occurring in the context of informal negotiations.

Chapter five discusses group agency and argues that functionalist accounts of group agency are a promising approach for extending the Negotiated Order approach. The sixth and final chapter returns to the original motivation for developing a theory of negotiating group agents. It shows that in the case of climate change negotiations, the Negotiated Order account offers a different and promising perspective than standard rational choice models.

In addition, the thesis includes an appendix which discusses Dewey’s theory of choice and proposes a way of formalising its pragmatist take on preference change., the #1 open access web portal for PhD theses...