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Abstract

In recent decades, concepts of group agency and the morality of groups have increasingly been discussed by philosophers. Notions of collective or joint duties have been invoked especially in the debates on global justice, world poverty and climate change. This paper enquires into the possibility and potential nature of moral duties individuals in unstructured groups may hold together. It distinguishes between group agents and groups of people which – while not constituting a collective agent – are nonetheless capable of performing a joint action. It attempts to defend a notion of joint duties which are neither duties of a group agent nor duties of individual agents, but duties held jointly by individuals in unstructured groups. Furthermore, it seeks to illuminate the relation between such joint duties on the one hand and individual duties on the other hand. Rebutting an argument brought forward by Wringe, the paper concludes that it is not plausible to assume that all humans on earth can together hold a duty to mitigate climate change or to combat global poverty given that the members of that group are not capable of joint action.1