The more radical approach we are in the middle of exploring
hinges on aggregate subjects.
An aggregate subject is a subject with proper parts who are themselves
I compared aggregate subjects to an aggregate animal, the Portuguese man o' war (Physalia physalis),
which is composed of polyps.
Here you can say that ‘the group [of polyps] itself’ is engaged in action
which is not just a matter of the polyps all acting.
But how can such a thing exist?
Humans do not mechanically attach themselves in the way that the polyps
making up that jellyfish do.
So (as we saw in the last lecture) we have to ask, How are aggregate agents possible?
It was striking that many people took the view that such things just couldn’t exist;
just as Searle did.
One thing I aim to do in this lecture is to convince you that their existence is not
quite as strange as you might think.
But first I want to remind you of a couple of themes from the last lecture.