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Global Action and Collective Obligations: Understanding Legal and Moral Responsibility

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  • Full or part time
    Dr V Rodriguez-Blanco
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

This research provides a platform for a better understanding of collective intentional action and an explanation of how collective action on the part of actors in corporations, legal institutions and states transforms the rights and obligations of individuals and generates justice/injustice, peace/violence and good/evil. Should we consider corporations, legal institutions and states as the product of a process that results from the intentions of authorities who create and construct them? Contra the common wisdom that intentions are mental states, the study advances the view that ‘intention’ is a complex phenomenon that involves directing the will towards ends and purposes. Recent developments on theories of collective agency have focused on the concept of merging intentional actions. This approach conceives collective agency as a complex and intertwined set of plans and subplans that make intelligible the idea of ‘acting together’ (Bratman, M., Intentions, Plans and Practical Reasons; Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1987).). The approach has expanded to ground normative orders like law where coordination and participation are considered fundamental ( Shapiro, S., Legality, Harvard: HUP, 2010). However, these views share a mistaken understanding of agency. They presuppose that actions are the result of mental states, though complex and interconnected. Difficulties arise for a plausible explanation of actions and plans that persist through time at the collective level. Research proposals that address the following key questions are welcome:
a) What are intentional actions?
b) How collective intentional actions are formed?
c) What is the relationship between collective intentional action and responsibility?

To find out more about studying for a PhD at the University of Birmingham, including full details of the research undertaken in each school, the funding opportunities for each subject, and guidance on making your application, you can now order your copy of the new Doctoral Research Prospectus, at:

The School of Law offers a number of Postgraduate Teaching Assistant Scholarships, covering fees and maintenance as well as a teaching payment. The 2013/14 application window is now closed. The deadline for applications was 4pm, Friday 15 February 2013. Please check back later in the year for details of the 2014/15 competition.
Full details are available here:

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Funding Notes

Each year the College of Arts and Law offers a number of doctoral scholarships, to cover fees and maintenance, for study starting in October. These are available to both home/EU and overseas students.

Applications should be made using the College Scholarship Application form; full details are available here:

Related Subjects

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FTE Category A staff submitted: 31.79

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