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When talking about Informal Decision Making by Groups (IDMG), it is necessary
to explain certain aspects of the individual self that are particularly important in a
persons being part of the process of IDMG, since groups are formed by individual
In the description of the self in this chapter, the self is ideali"ed as an integrated
#hole! $eal selves are often fragmented and inconsistent, sometimes pathologically and
sometimes to the extent that attributing decisions to such a self is problematic! %ut for the
purposes of this pro&ect, i!e! in order to avoid further complexity in its description of
IDMG, it is an ideali"ed picture of the self that #ill be developed in this chapter and used
throughout this dissertation! 'ursuing the themes of this dissertation in a #ay that
includes a #ider range of the kinds of selves that #e humans actually are is something
that #ill need to #ait until the present description of the essential characteristics of
IDMG has been completed!
(mong these aspects of the individual are the specific characteristics that identify a
person as autonomous, as having the capacity for self)governance, for exercising his*her
capacity of free #ill #ithin the limits determined both by human nature and by social
conditions! +ome philosophical accounts of the self focus narro#ly on the self as an
independent autonomous human being #ith the capacity to choose, that is, as capable of
deciding #hat is the good and the right in his*her life in terms of a core true)self that is
completely self)validating and therefore capable of remaining unaffected by other
persons in his*her essence as a self!
-o#ever, speaking first in general, it is hard to see ho# a human individual could
live such an isolated life, #ithout the help of others to become a full human being #ith an
identity that the person could consider to be validated, not to mention being able, in such
a condition, to develop the capacities of self)reflection and self)interpretation #hich are
among the characteristics possessed by an autonomous self (nor, of course, numerous
other capacities that humans can only learn from other, more mature humans and that the
capacity for autonomous choice depends on both practically and internally, but that are
not #ithin the direct focus of this dissertation)!.hese characteristics, as #ell as the sense
of #ho one truly is,i!e! ones identity,
are all formed in relation to the process of
sociali"ation in the habits, social norms, values, etc! that are learned from*#ith others!In
particular, since the communication and dialogue that bring people to IDMG are
principally about the good and the right, it is important that the individual learns #hat the
good and the right is in general in his*her processes of sociali"ation, i!e! both ho# humans
come to &udgments about #hat it is and ho# to bring it about in their o#n lives and
(dmittedly, this development and practical dependence on interaction in groups
can and does constrain the agency of the self in a number of #ays, including the
possibility of very negative outcomes for the self such as marginali"ation, exploitation,
oppression, abusive actions, etc!(s -ilde /indemann stresses and analy"es in depth in
0Damaged Identities, Narrative Repair
, there are very difficult challenges involved in
-! /indemann, Damaged Identities: Narrative Repair (1e# 2ork3 4ornell 5niversity 'ress, 6778), 9:)
coming to be an autonomous and independent self that is at the same time a self that
needs and is therefore constrained by relationships to other individuals to exist! (s
/indemann argues, even as #e think of an individual as having the possibility of self)
definition and self)direction, at the same time #e must understand the self as necessarily
reinterpreting him*herself in relation to others and in differentiating him*herself from
%ut even more so from the specific perspective of the process of IDMG, such
conceptions of the self as #holly independent of others < in #hich, for example, relations
to other persons are optional from the point of vie# of being a complete self and thus are
0accidental= in the (ristotelian sense of that #ord, i!e! come into being only if
deliberately chosen, or are vie#ed as inimical to the achievement of a complete and
autonomous self <are not supported!.he process of IDMG presupposes a relatedness of
persons antecedent to the initiation of any particular persons efforts at IDMG!(s has
been explained in the brief description of 0.he 4oming to >We= in the previous chapter
in relation specifically to informal group decision)making, and as has been explained in
4hapter ?ne from the philosophical literature on formal group decision)making, the
achievement of group decision)making does not lessen the individual participants
agency as an autonomous individual! (nd in informal decision making, the achievement
of IDMG is genuinely one of this individual persons o#n acts even at the same time that
it is also one of the acts of each other individual person #ho participates and, arguably,
an act of the group as a single agent! .his fact that humans engage in IDMG #ould not be
the case if the preconditions of the possibility for IDMG, in the form of antecedent
relatedness to other agents, #ere not already part of the makeup of each individual #ho
participates in IDMG! (nd again, as above in relation to the social roots of an individual
persons identity and the development of the characteristics on #hich a persons exercise
of autonomy depends, so here it must be ackno#ledged that the achievement of IDMG by
one group can be harmful to other persons and that the process of #orking to#ards
IDMG can exclude, exploit, and other#ise harm persons, including those attempting to
participate!.hese themes of negative outcomes #ill be explored, as has been noted, in the
final chapter of this dissertation!
.herefore, in order to understand the aspects of the self that are most significant
in IDMG, it is necessary to turn to those philosophical accounts of the self that hold that
the self is a social and interactional self!(mong these, for example, there is a conception
of the self as coming into existence #ithin the social group by the means of
communication bet#een the self and others! (ccording to 4ooley, the self and society are
t#in born, they 0co)create= each other, they come into being at the same time! It is not the
case that individuals are developing and then coming together to form societyafter that,
and neither is it correct to say that the social group simply and totally forms persons,
#here the group is an agent #ithout selves and one re&ects the idea of the self as a unit!
.here is rather an indissoluble relation bet#een the individual self and the social group,
brought about by communicative action, #hich includes the aspects of communication
discussed in 4hapter .#o, i!e! dialogue, meta)communication and narrative!.his is one
example of the kind of explanation of the self that is presupposed by and illuminates the
process of a group making an informal decision!
.hat is, the self that I #ill be describing
is a self already related to others that communicates and acts to#ard others in the context
It is not necessary here to discuss the different theories of the self in any further detail nor to examine
other aspects of different philosophical accounts of the self! @or the point of this chapter is to explain
the aspects of the individual self that are presupposed by and*or are operative in the process of persons
achieving IDMG!
of this relatedness, but at the same time a self processed of the ability to0be a#are= of
him*herself as being a distinct and autonomous person!
It is not possible to explain simultaneously every aspect of the self that is relevant
to IDMG, even though these aspects operate simultaneously and inter)connectedly!I am
calling the first of these aspects that I #ill explain the 0$eflective +elf,=and I am
explaining it first because itis the 0I= #ho #ants to produce meaning by communication,
#hat I have called 0 in)formatio,= to the others 0Is= by sharing conversation, personal
stories, vie#s about #hat ought to be done, etc, #ith significant intimacy in order to
assist the others to interpret the speakers 0I= and vice versa, to communicate moral
meaning, and, specifically in respect to IDMG, to bring the group, if possible, to a shared
moral space and a shared Moral @rame#ork and shared action! .hus, in this
communication, the 0I= #ill situate him*herself in a moral space and propose it to the
others 0Is= by sharing and exchanging in)formatio, including moral meaning, #ith the
other 0Is! 0 If the in)formatio of moral meaning succeeds in being received and if it is
also affirmed in dialogue and in the development of a basis for possible action together,
then the 0Is= #ill have a sharedmoral space in #hich to talk about their relation to the
good and to the right regarding the action possibilities at hand, i!e! in an effort to achieve
a shared Moral @rame#ork! If they achieve this, they #ill have achieved this as
individuals but also as a group making a decision (informally, i!e! #ithout the assistance
of the formal decision)making social systems discussed in 4hapter ?ne!)
.he other aspects of the self relevant to adeAuately describing IDMG, after the
$eflective +elf, I #ill call the $elational +elf and the Dialogical +elf, these #ill be
examined in subseAuent sections of this chapter! %ut to adeAuately understand IDMG, it
is necessary to describe in more detail those aspects of the self that I am calling the
$eflective +elf!?ne component of the $eflective +elf that is relevant to IDMG is that #e
humans, #hen mature and to some extent also before that point, have an a#areness of
being a#are!
The Reflective Self
.his aspect of our reflexive capacity concerns ho# the individual turns to
him*herself and is conscious about his*her thoughts, feelings, desires, values and so on!
+elf reflection is the reflection that the first person 0I= engages in reference to oneself and
in particular in understanding and affirming ones o#n identity!(t one level of
a#areness, a person may see their identity as defined by a set of characteristics having to
do #ith place of birth, being catholic, or being liberal, liking hamburgers, or being a
vegan!%ut #hen #e ask the Auestion 0#ho am IB= <or #hen someone else asks the
Auestion 0Who are youB= < this Auestion of 0#ho B= is al#ays a Auestion about an entity,
a sub&ect, that thinks, feels, desires, and has a #ill, and about the actions of that entity,
that sub&ect, the0I= or self as comprehended in self)reflection!
+elf)identity is a t#o)fold understanding, the understanding that the 0I= has about
his*herself by the reflection that the self makes about him*her personally, but also #hat
the self learns about him*herself from and in relation to others!@or in the individuals
identity formation, the group has an important role to play because, for example, #hen
the child is brought up, s*he learns about his*her culture, roles, and norms, and also s*he
learns to be recogni"ed by the others in certain #ays and not others, as fitting certain
descriptions and not others, as being appropriate for certain activities and not others, and
so on! .his social recognition is ho# each individual and each*group notices and pays
attention to the other(s), including its a#areness (accurate from a first person perspective
or not) of the others desires, thoughts, feelings and actions! In these and other #ays, the
formation of ones identity is a dual process in #hich the 0I= reflects about him*herself,
but at the same time is recogni"ed by the group as such)and)such kind ofperson!
.his means that the action of self)reflection is done in an autonomous #ay as a
self)definition and self direction, but is also and at the same time done #ithin and in
relation to a group (and in fact, for most persons from very early in their lives, #ithin and
in relation to a number of groups that do not necessarily have the same understanding of
that person)! Discovering my o#n identity doesnt mean I #ork it out alone in solitude, it
is an interactive dialogue that I have #ith myself and #ith others! .his also means that
others can err about me and I #ill consider that there is misrecognition of myself by these
others! +o, as -ilde /indemann explains in depth in her book, 0Damaged Identities,
Narrative Repair,=
the interconnection bet#een self)reflection and others and groups
vie#s of the self in shaping a persons identity means it is Auite possible that a person or
a group of persons could suffer real damage, personally and practically, even to the point
of oppression in #hich such misrecognition must be considered an attack on the dignity
of a human being!When this is happening, it #ill obviously raise serious obstacles to the
achievement of IDMG, unless in the course of the participants dialogue it is properly
addressed! In addition, as /indemann also stresses, there are situations in #hich the
groups description of the self may be founded on better evidence than #hat the self
-! /indemann, Damaged Identities: Narrative Repair (1e# 2ork3 4ornell 5niversity 'ress, 6778)!
believes about him*herself!.his too is a situation in #hich, unless corrected in the
communication bet#een the participants, IDMG may be unable to happen!
In self)reflection, the understanding of #hat the 0I= or the self kno#s doesnt rest
in observation or perception alone! It involves a demonstrative reference to its ob&ect <
the 0I= turning, and examining its o#n 0I!= (s a conseAuence, the first person kno#ledge
of his*her actions and beliefs #ill come not only from thinking*feeling about #hat the self
is currently engaged in or has done or experienced previously, but also from
thinking*feeling about #hat to do and believe no# and later on! +elf)reflection is al#ays
also in the process of shaping the identity of the self, al#ays also reflecting on#hat
constitutes and #ill constitute his*her identity! .hat is, the #ay in #hich a self
thinks*feels about his*herself includes #hat 4harles .aylor describes in 0The Self and the
Moral Space,=
a self that is defined in terms of commitments and identifications that
provide a personal stance, a stance or point of vie# that is taken and undertaken as a
pro&ect (not merely experienced passively), especially in relation to the good and to the
right in this selfs life! Moreover, these commitments and identifications are directly
related to the narratives of the individual, they are directly related to the #ay in #hich the
personal story is understood by the self to reveal the meaning of his*her uniAueness by a
combination of past)and)present, and in relation to future experiences, the selfs future
story, from the perspective of the actual 0no#!=
(s stressed above, ho#ever, this personal narrative and the commitments and
identifications that it supports are both an intrapersonal narrative and an interpersonal
I #ill explain more about possible defects in the process of IDMG, including the potential role of social
miss)descriptions and the potential of such processes to produce experiences of oppression and
violations of human dignity in 4hapter +ix of this dissertation!
4h! .aylor, The Sources of The Self: The Making of the Modern Identity (4ambridge3 -arvard
5niversity 'ress, 8:C:)!
narrative! $egarding the intrapersonal narrative, the personal story that the >I= has is
made up in significant measure of his*her memories #hich at a personal level are the
primary source of the self identity! .hese memories are, so to speak, #here the story of
the individual begins and it is largely in terms of them that the story of the self continues
through supporting its affirmation of identity through recognition in the group (or not, if
there are differing descriptions of the self, as noted above)!
(ristotles treatise 0n Memory and Reminiscence=
offers a useful distinction
bet#een mere retention of previously experienced images, #hich he terms &ust
0memory,= and the activity of associating such images into a coherent order, #hich he
calls 0reminiscence!= -o#ever, the single term, 0memory,= in this dissertation #ill
include both activities, since there is no need here to carefully distinguish them!
(ristotles distinction reminds us, ho#ever, that #e do more than store images!We have
the faculty to organi"e images that #ere originated by sense)perception, and in fact our
intellects depend on this organi"ing in memory in the same #ay that they depend on the
organi"ing of sense perception in relation to a given experience!

+o in the process of
recalling memories, the 0I= #ill reflect on experiences from the past that are part of
his*her identity and are reference points about #hat the 0I= is experiencing in the 0no#!=
.he self enters into #hat can be characteri"ed as an interior conversation, #here s*he
thinks about #hich is the best experience that s*he has ever had in the past relation to the
good and the right in his*her life, at the present moment #hen thinking about a past action
could be in relation to an experience, a thought, a feeling a desire! .his process of interior
(ristotle, 0?n Memory and $eminiscence,= in The !omplete "orks of #ristotle: The Revised $ford
Translation, ed! Donathan %arnes ('rinceton3 5niversity 'ress, 8:CE)!
-o#ever, (ristotle offers another definition for the intellect as active mind #hich distinguishes itself
from both reminiscence and imagination by its capacity to make essences intelligible, i!e! the action of
understanding the eternal structure that is the essences of things < i!e! the action of contemplating!
conversation is in relation to memories and to imagination, since there #ill be times #hen
the experience that is happening in the present is not the same as the one that is part of
the personal story that is being recalled! In that situation, it #ill be necessary to use
imagination in order to accommodate the past experience to the present*future
In a similar #ay, David ?"ar in his article 0%irtue, Narrative, and Moral
Refection,= claims that #hen doing moral reflection specifically in terms of virtue3
0.he deliberator first imagines himself*herself doing the course of action
that is in consideration! .hen the deliberator compares this imagined self)
in)action)in)context #ith an ideal self and determines #hether the
imagined self matches or does not matches the ideal self, or approaches
more closely to or moves farther a#ay from the ideal self=
%ut in fact the process of deliberating, not only in terms of virtue, but according
to any of the recogni"ed approaches to moral reflection
implies the action of
/ike memory, imagination is an auxiliary to the intellect and to sense
perception!.he 0I= deliberates through images and thoughts as an action of 0seeing= #hat
has been done in the past, constructing from past experiences images never 0seen=
before, and also looking for the ideal or best or right action! .hus it assists the self in the
process of Auestioning him*herself about and clarifying #hat kind of action in)context
#ould be the best, or #hich kind of person the individual #ishes to be in a given action
or ho# to apply other standards of #hat ought to be done, and thereby deliberates about
the possible actions in the present*future from a moral point of vie#!
David ?"ar, FGirtue, 1arrative, and Moral $eflection,F ('roceedingsof the @ifty)+ixth (nnual Meeting
of the Desuit 'hilosophical (ssociation, 4hicago, Il!, 8::E)!
In 4hapter .#o of this dissertation, I describe five distinct approaches to moral*ethical thinking!
In addition to this deliberative process of the self examining possible actions in
moral terms, there is also an activity of the self in #hich the individual deliberates about
#hether s*he #ants any of those potential future stories to become part of his*her story
through acting according to them! 1ote also, in relation to this activity of the reflective
self, that a re)definition of the selfs identity could be #hat is accomplished, for that is
also (perhaps some#hat paradoxically) a possible story that the self might choose to
@inally, all these activities of self)reflection are directly relevant to IDMG in t#o
#ays!@irst, they shape the communication that takes place on the part of each participant
in the dialogue, including again both narrative and meta)communication components of
the communicative process!(nd second, each participant is a#are that the other (all the
others) is also a reflective self #ho is engaging in these activities, so each ones effort to
interpret and respond to the others in)formatio of narrative and especially of moral
meaning is shaped by the effort to interpret the others meaning accordingly!
The Rel#ti$%#l Self #%& the R$le $f I%te'('et#ti$%
In this process of reflection it is important to give special emphasis to the activity
of interpretation! Dosiah $oyces theory of interpretation is explained in his book, 0The
&ro'lem of !hristianity(= .hrough interpretation, $oyce holds, the 0I= has the ability to
be autonomous by self)governance of his*her reflection and &udgment, even as the self is
also interpreting meanings in relation to others! .hus, according to $oyce, the activity of
interpretation involves a triad of elements! .here is an interpreter, a sign, and the one to
#hom the interpretation is addressed, and the interpreter 0mediates= bet#een the sign that
is being interpreted and the one addressed!
.he interpretation can be about oneself, about the sign per se, and about the
interpretation of the other! $egarding the third element, the action of interpretation can be
done in t#o distinct #ays according to $oyce3 as self)interpretation on ones o#n
thoughts, desires, ideas, feelings, values, memories and reflections, and as interpretations
done in a social context, that is, #ithin a group (or community, as $oyce terms it), by
conversation, dialogue, narrative, meta)narrative, by #hich each of us communicates
interpretations to the other!(ccording to $oyce, an individuals affairs concern
him*herself, but they also concern the people s*he lives #ith! Interpretation is the means
by #hich others try to comprehend our affairs and vice)versa! Interpretation is thus best
vie#ed then as a balance bet#een the individuals o#n vie#s and interests and the
understanding of others!
$oyce uses the example of ro#ers to sho# ho# #e can affirm that each 0I= is an
autonomous agent, but at the same time that the 0Is= are part of a group, unified in action
through their mutual exchange of interpretations of one anothers actions! (1ote ho#
much of the communication in this example #ill be being accomplished by meta)
communication, even if language is also an important part of the parties dialogue about
#hat they are doing together!)In $oyces preferred terms, they are members of a
community, #hich for $oyce is spiritual unity of persons! In the example of the ro#ers,
$oyce explains3
0Hach man vie#s the boat and the oars and the #ater as ob&ects #hich he
experiences for himself! (t the same time, each of the t#o men believes
thatboth of them are experiencing, #hile they gro# together, the same
externalfacts! Hach individual, as he pulls his oar, verifies some of his o#n
ideas, and finds them 0#orking= in his o#n individual experience, neither
of them individually verifies the 0#orkings= of the other mens idea!
.he boat #hich each men finds, sees, touches, and feels himself pull,
appears to him as verifying his o#n ideas! .he common boat, the boat
#hich each men regards as an ob&ect not only for his o#n, but also for his
neighbors experience, is essentially an ob&ect of interpretation!
.he oarsmen #ho do not only ro# in the same boat, but #ho are able to
talk over together their boat, or their ro#ing, interpret their united life and
#ork a such a real community of interpretation!
.hey constantly interpret themselves as the members, and their boat as the
empirical ob&ect of such community! (nd they constantly define #hat
could be actually verified only if the goal of the community is reached! %y
only ro#ing they #ill indeed never reach it!
@or such a goal is essentially the experience of a community, and
thesuccessIthe final truth of each idea, or of each individual, that enters
into the community, is due (#hen the goal is reached) neither to its
0#orks= nor to its #orkings, but to its essentially spiritual unity in and
#ith the community!=
$oyces account has each individual in the ro#ers example getting into a self)
reflective process, reflecting on his*her o#n stories and, by 0pulling the oar,= verifying
his*her o#n stories, looking for self)identity through that verification,and 0reflectively=
identifying this act of interpretation as his*her o#n, that is, as a self)interpretation! In the
process, the self may also remember and*or imagine, may deliberate about a commitment
s*he undertook (e!g! to meet the other ro#er to ro# together for a certain period of time)
and thus interpret this present action in relation to his*her past, or by using imagination
relate it to the future! Interpreting it in terms of a past commitment, s*he #ill say this is
#hat I meant #hen I undertook that commitment and s*he may reaffirm or reinterpret
his*her o#n desires in relation to that commitment in terms of the actual demands to
fulfill that action (e!g! I committed to ro# for an hour and so #e should go back soon, or,
I committed to ro# for an hour and it is already past an hour and #e are no#here near our
starting point,, etc!)! .herefore, there are three temporal modes of self)interpretation3 the
Dohn H! +mith, and William Jluback, ed! 0.he World of Interpretation,= in )osiah Royce: Selected
"ritings( (1e# 2ork3 'aulist 'ress, 8:CC), K7L!
self in relation to the past and his*her personal narrative, the self in the present engaged in
an actual experience, and the self in relation to the present*future as possible responses to
the present situation are interpreted!
+ince language is the principal #ay in #hich the 0Is= in a given community
produce meaning, especially moral meaning, by means of dialogue, narrative and meta)
communication, the topic of interpreting language deserves some special comment!In the
process of attempting IDMG, the 0I= #ho communicates #ith others belongs to a
community #hich accepts and in a certain sense agrees on a particular language! .o take
a simple example, in ordinary Hnglish, by saying the #ord 0table= a person refers to a
table, i!e! an instance of the concept, table, rather than some other concept, that is, 0table=
means table for that group or community in #hich the individuals speaking this language
reside! .hus Margaret Gilbert reminds us that every language is a 0group language=
because interpretation of these particular sounds yields the reproduction of moral (or any
other kind of) meaning only because of acceptance, a kind of agreement, on the part of a
community in relation to this! It is not language, says Gilbert (echoing Wittgenstein and
others), if #e make personal sounds, gestures, or silence, or #e use a personal code to
#rite up personal diaries, because those #ays of expressing #ill be only to ourselves!
When #e make sounds, gestures, or silence, for these to be meaningful #e must be
participating in an agreement to understand each other in these certain #ays in a given
community! If #e can imagine being in a group or community #here everyone expresses
#hatever and ho#ever s*he #ants, that, says Gilbert, #ould be 0linguistic anarchy!=
M! Gilbert, *iving Together: Rationality, Sociality, and 'ligation (%oston3 $o#man M /ittlefield
'ublishers Inc, 8::9), 6;K!
M! Gilbert, Social +acts (1e# 2ork3 $outledge, 8:C:), 8K9!
We can certainly imagine some kinds of shared tasks #hich each participant is so
familiar #ith in detail that all the communication and mutuality of interpretation is
achieved #ithout #ords, that is, by meta)communication!@or example, t#o experienced
oarsmen might ro# successfully, and might even be able to agree to begin to ro# together
#ithout spoken #ords, i!e! #ithout using language (suppose, for example, they spoke
different languages)!%ut it is also easy to imagine that their communication and their
abilities to share the task of ro#ing could then fall short in the face of an unexpected
situation! .hen #hat they #ould need in order to communication is a common language,
#hich presupposes a community that accepts that language and in so doing determines
the current standards for interpreting the speaking of it!.herefore, to all that has been said
in this section about the aspects of the interpretative self and about mutuality of
interpretation must be added the role of at least one kind of larger community, the
linguistic community of the speakers, and the need for each participant in communication
aimed at IDMG to be interpreting one anothers spoken #ords not only in terms of the
factors already discussed, but also in terms of that linguistic communitys accepted
standards for speaking that language!
(ll of #hich is to say that it is impossible to adeAuately describe IDMG #ithout
reference to a self #ho is a $elational +elf!
The Di#l$)ic#l Self
My exploration in the section is based in the assumption that the t#o concepts 0self= and
0dialogue= can become meaningfully merged in a third concept, the0Dialogical
+elf!=.here are several philosophers that conceive the idea of the self as an agent
engaged in practices, that is, as a being #ho acts in the social #orld! (ccording to
4harles .aylor, for example, the self is defined in dialogue! In his essay, 0The &olitics of
Recognition,= he explains3
0.he crucial feature of human life is its fundamentally dialogical
character! We become full human agents, capable of understanding
ourselves, and hence of defining our identity, thorough the acAuisition of
rich human languages of expression! I #ant to take language in a broad
sense, covering to only the #ords #e speak, but also other modes of
expression #hereby #e define ourselves, including the 0languages= of art,
gesture, love, and the like! %ut #e learn these modes of expression
through exchanges #ith others! 'eople do not acAuire the languages
needed for self definition on their o#n! $ather, #e are introduced to them
by interaction #ith other #ho matter us ) #hat G!M! Mead called
0significant others!= .he genesis of human mind is in this sense not
monological, not each person accomplishes on his or her o#n, but
.he dialogical self #ill be the 0I in relation to theothers 0I= by the means of
communication! .he 0I= comes into the a moral space, a setting #here the reproduction
of moral meaning is undertaken and done so, for our purposes, #ith a vie# to possible
IDMG, by sharing personal stories and exchanging in)formatio!-o#ever, the
communicative process is rich #ith interpretational relations, that is, the perception by
each of the others in)formatio and each ones deliberation about that in)formatio and
about offering in)formatio to the other 0Is= in turn!
4harles -! 4olley makes this kind of point in his 0looking glass theory of the
self!= -is idea of the selfs achievement of identity is that it done by the reflexive
capacity of the others! 4ooley thought of the self not as first individual and then as social!
-e sa# it as developing dialectically through communication, and interaction bet#een
0Is,= in a manner similar to #hat #as explained earlier in this chapter! @or 4ooley, then,
4h!.aylor, 0.he 'olitics of $ecognition!= in &hilosophical #rguments (4ambridge3 -arvard 5niversity
'ress, 8::L), 6K7!
the identity of the self is a composite of ideas that #e attribute to ourselves via the social
external #orld of interpersonal relations3
0+ocial consciousness, or a#areness of society, is inseparable from self)
consciousness, because #e can hardly think of ourselves excepting #ith
reference to a social group of some sort, or of the group except #ith
reference to ourselves! .he t#o things go together, and #hat #e are really
a#are of is a more or less complex personal or social #hole!
+ociety or the group is an organic #hole made up of co)operating
individualities, in the same #ay that the music of an orchestra is made up
of divergent but related sounds! 1o one #ould think it necessary or
reasonable to divide the music into t#o kindsNthat made by the #hole
and that of particular instruments3 and no more are there t#o kinds of
mindNthe social mind and the individual mind!
.he vie# that all mind hangs together in a vital #hole, from #hich the
individual is never really separate, flo#s naturally from our gro#ing
kno#ledge of heredity and suggestion, #hich makes it increasingly clear
that every thought #e have is linked #ith the thought of our ancestors and
associates, and through them #ith that of society at large! It is also the
only vie# consistent #ith the general standpoint of modern science, #hich
admits nothing isolate in nature=
.he 0I= has a sense of self, a unity in some sorts of #ays, ho#ever in a
paradoxical #ay s*he also has in his*her personal story a collection of relational memories
about others! .hat is, the 0I= reflects about him*her self in a relational #ay! .he 0I= has
existence because of the group that he*she #as brought up in! +ociali"ation is a learning
process that begins shortly after birth!Harly childhood is the period of the most intense
and the most crucial sociali"ation!It is then that #e acAuire language, and it is through the
cultural group or community that the 0I= learns about his*her identity, personality, and the
roles that s*he #ill be playing in life! (ccording to 4ooley an exclusive 0I=)a#areness is
present until the child is about t#o years old, #hen #hat#e can properly call a sense of
self begins to emerge precisely in tandem #ith a consciousness of the inseparable
con&unction of self and others!Gery soon the child begins to discriminate personal
4harles -! 4ooley,F+ocial 4onsciousness,F &roceedings of the #merican Sociological Society 8 (8:7L)3
experiences from the ones that come from him*her self and those #hich come from the
group! .he child #ill be becoming a#are of his*her o#n story, but at the same time s*he
is becoming a#are of the groups stories! .hat is, I am a#are of the social group in #hich
I live as immediately and authentically as I am a#are of myself!
In relation to 4ooleys theory of the self, 4harles .aylor explains that identity is
al#ays a matter of situating oneself in a social, professional, familiar space, although the
coherent sense of self comes also from the #ay the individual refers to his or her o#n
moral space! %ut the fact that this is understood as moral space already implies the self in
relation #ith others! .aylor talks about the relation that #e have to others as a 0dialogical
that is, he compares it the relation bet#een people executing a common action, for
example, ballroom dancing! In ballroom dancing it is necessary for there to be rhythm,
and flo#, a kind of cadence, and understanding by each of the other so the dance can
flo#!If the t#o persons lose this flo#, they become confused and a#k#ard!It is necessary
that they have a shared space to dance in harmony #ith one another!
.he same happens #hen #e share some kind of in)formatio #ith the other and it
is responded to in some #ay, in such a setting there is shared space! ?nce the individual
shares the moral space of in)formatio, dialogue comes next #ith some degree of ease as
intimacy starts by sharing personal stories! .hus the reflective self itself arises through
communication! .his vie# of the self naturally assumes a high degree of ability to
communicate and act #ithin the group! @or the reflective selfis not an isolated self that
only reflects about him*her self in conversation#ith others, it is a self engaged by
communicating, dialoguing, and telling his*her o#n story by both internali"ing the
4h! .aylor, 0.he Dialogical +elf,= in The Interpretative Turn: &hilosophy, Science, !ulture, ed! David
$! -iley, Dames @! %ohman, and $ichard +husterman (Ithaca3 4ornell 5niversity 'ress, 8::8)!
conversation of the other and #orking to construct a 0We= conception out of the original
0I= positions of those involved!
The Self*+ R$le i% Sh#'e& G$#l+
In this third chapter I have explained in detail that the self in IDMG has three
aspects3 the $eflective +elf, the $elational (and Interpreting)+elf, and the Dialogical +elf!
.his #ay of dividing the exposition has been chosen because ordinarily the individual
#ill experience reaching out to the other by going first from reflection to interpretation,
and then from interpretation to dialogue! .hus the communicative action bet#een 0Is= in
the process of striving for IDMG could be explained as a series of 0steps= that begin #ith
the moment that the 0I= desires and deliberates to perform the action of communicating
about him*herself to the other! .his necessarily includes the reflective activity of the 0Is=
#illingness to communicate, and the initial interpretative activity of choosing #hat and
ho# to communicate! @or present purposes, it doesnt matter ho#, i!e! by #hich
particular, concrete actions, the 0I= arrives to the next step of reproducing moral meaning
in the communicative action <#hich is the first step to#ards the creation of the moral
space bet#een 0Is!= %ut once the reproduction of moral meaning has begun, if the 0Is=
are exchanging personal stories, if they continue to engage one another at this level of in)
formatio, they #ill have begun to dialogue, and if this process proceeds this dialogue #ill
be of significant personal matters, even some degree of intimacy about values, the good,
and the right!
.he aspect that I explained as cohesiveness in IDMG, #hich %uber describes as
the 0sphere of bet#een,=
is clearly a dialogical phenomenon! It is the dialogue bet#een
0Is= #here an exchange, a meeting of minds and selves, occurs and, if the process
succeeds then some kind of mutuality is created!+o it is precisely in the interdependence,
the confluence of the selves thoughts, stories, desires, #here coherence begins to
emerge! .he theme of dialogue stresses the in)bet#een, the in)bet#een &oining t#o
selves, each of #hom is constantly also active in the process as a $eflective +elf so the
internali"ation of each selfis present in the dialogue!
%ut as has been mentioned, in IDMG communication, dialogue, narrative, and the
mutual exchange of moral meaning cannot exist #ith a previous 0consent= of being part
of the conversation! Hven in going for a #alk together #e need an agreement of the other
party to #alk along #ith others! ?nce the 0Is= have entered into a conversation #ith
moral meaning, they have made a kind of agreement to see if they can share a common
moral space by a sign, signal, spoken #ord or silence! .he mutual common space is
created by dialogue, #ith the implied agreements and conventions of the linguistic
community, #here the 0Is= had agreed that they are participating and exchanging in)
formatio of moral meaning! More importantly, once the 0Is= have entered into a dialogue
of moral meaning, agreeing to continue in the conversation of the sharing of personal
stories #ith significant intimacy, the 0Is= have also entered into #hatMargaret Gilbert
calls 0strong shared personal goal analysis!=
0?n this account, it is logically necessary and sufficient for a case of going
for a #alk together that it is common kno#ledge bet#een Dack and +ue
that each one has the goal in Auestion! %y this I mean, roughly, that each
M! @riedman, Martin ,u'er: The life of Dialogue (1e# 2ork3 -arper M $o#, 8:97), :6!
ones goal is completely out in the open as far as the t#o of them are
concerned! +uch common kno#ledge could arise in various #ays!!!=
( shared goal is formed once the t#o (or more) parties had agreed to #alk
together, in the case of IDMG, once the 0Is= in a first approach had accepted the other
0Is= in)formatio of moral meaning in dialogue and in sharing of personal stories, there is
already a shared goal! If they proceed in the sharing, the individuals #ills #ill come to
be sharing further in a goal of simultaneous interdependence! We do not have here an
exchange of promises or the imposition of one party over the other! $ather each person
expresses a special form of mutual conditional commitment, that is, in the acceptance of
the 0Is= sharing, there is created mutually created moral space in a dialogue of in)
formatio of moral meaning #ith each saying to the other, in effect, I #ill share my moral
meanings if you #ill share yours! In so doing, they also have the shared goal of precisely
such sharing and, by implication, of sharing together also the goal of seeing #here the
active sharing of moral space #ill go (i!e! #hether it can lead to a shared Moral
@rame#ork and shared action)! +o each 0I,= #hen coming initially from the refection that
it is ready to reach out to theothers 0I,= no# through dialogue and shared moral meaning
is venturing #ith the other 0I= together to try to achieve IDMG!
If the acceptance of a shared moral space has been created, and the in)formatio of
moral meaning has been mutually reproduced, then the 0Is= may have a common ground
#ithin #hich to identify common actions through deliberation on the basis of a shared
Moral @rame#ork! ?f course, in this situation, a tension could be created bet#een #hat
the reflective self is interpreting and the dialogue in the informal group #here the self
#ill present his*her conversation to the others! If there is to be IDMG, there #ill be a
M! Gilbert, *iving Together: Rationality, Sociality, and 'ligation, 8L:!
confluence of thoughts resulting from a ne# in)formatio of moral meaning, resultant
from the confluence of thoughts in the group, a goal #hich they each and together have
as a group! (nd in this they become #hat Margaret Gilbert calls 0a plural sub&ect of the
goal!= .hus Gilbert in her book, 0n Social +acts,
= explains that a plural sub&ect or a
0We= has accepted in dialogue and #ithin a shared moral space to bethe plural sub&ect of
a goal, even if they have not yet started to act in terms of it, e!g! the goal of finding an
available conference hall in the university! ?r there may be those #ho share a
conversation on ho# they can make a difference in their county in relation to violence in
their neighborhoods and share the goal of making such a difference, even if they have not
determined #hat that might mean in concrete action!+o, the goal of the 0I= becomes the
goal of the 0Is,= the goal of the 0We!= .his common goal is not the sum of the goals of
the 0Is= individual goals, nor necessarily related to #hat might be common to their
shared stories! It is rather a commitment of each 0I= and of all the 0Is= together to the
same goal, it is their goal together!It is something ne# in their relationship that no#
connects and makes interdependent the stories of the others and each 0Is= story, makes
in this specific respect this common goal something that is no# 0our story= as one actor!
It may be that the 0Is= #ill originally have different Moral @rame#orks, and they
may therefore have to deliberate differently about possible actions for the achievement of
the common goal according to such Moral @rame#orks! .hat is, they may not achieve
IDMG by together choosing an action! %ut #hat is important here is that #hat results
from the interaction of the individuals as a plural sub&ect no# having a common goal is
that they together have an identity in the final result, created in the shared moral space,
i!e!the common goal that the group as a unity comes up #ith!
M! Gilbert, n Social +acts (1e# 2ork3 $outledge, 8:C:), 8::!
4onsider this example! .#o friends are talking about the experience they &ust had
in school! Working in a small group of five, t#o of the students, Marie and +cott, are
#orking on the assignment!.hey are talking about biology #hen one of the students,
+cott, says that he is in favor of the protest against racism in the school! .he five students
then express their opinions and talk about their personal stories in relation to the topic,
and instead of completing the biology assignment they get into a very interesting
dialogue!(s part of this conversation, Marie tells a story about an experience she &ust had
#hen using a bag that had a message #ritten in+panish!
While she #as #alking to catch the bus, an old lady screamed at her, 0+tupid
-ispanic, go homeO= +he told the group that it #as not fair to treat people like that! +cott
supported her, and the other three students contribute to the dialogue by assenting to #hat
Maria has said #ithout saying more than a fe# #ords! ?nce this topic has been brought
out in the group and everyone is listening attentively to the several voices, each of the
members #ill also have the experience of reflection about it, going back to their o#n
internal, personal narrative realm and then bringing the in)formatio to the group, either in
the form of their o#n shared story or by explicitly accepting the stories that have been
mentioned by others as relevant to the topic, or assenting more Auietly by &ust a fe#
#ords or by their body language!If the dialogue proceeds to include the Auestion the good
and the right about #hat is being said, then the group #ill have begun to enter into a
shared moral space, #ill accept that the group has come to measure the extent of their
shared moral space through the in)formatio of moral meaning that is being shared! In all
this, it is important to underscore that meta)communication, as #ell as explicit #ords, is
extremely important for the students to kno# the meaning that is being reproduced by
any of them in the dialogue!
(ccording to Marie #hat has happened to her on her #ay to campus and the
racism it sho#s is a fault against human dignity! +cott no# explains that from his point of
vie# each person has a duty to respect others, the other t#o students say that they have
learned from personal experiences that they must follo# the golden rule to 0.reat others
as you #ant to be treated!= (fter a #hile, +cott says that is important to end this kind of
disrespectful action, and he proposes an action to try to correct it! (It is possible that at
this point, the other students are not interested in discussing possible actions and the
process stops at this point! %ut in this example, it continues to move for#ard to#ards
IDMG!) (ll the other students then come up #ith different solutions and possible actions,
looking for example for the one that could be done in a short period of time! (t this
moment, the group had come to a shared goal (i!e! to take some concrete action in
response to racism, provided they can agree on one through deliberating together) by
reflecting on and in some cases sharing personal stories and by dialogue, having first
reached a common moral space in #hich to discuss possible actions, and they are no#
able to call themselves a 0We= in regard to their common goal! What has happened is not
merely the sum of the different students thoughts or opinions, it is a sharing of moral
space and a readiness to search for an appropriate action by the plural sub&ect, a 0We!=
1ote that in this example the students are not imagined to have yet determined a
common action, even thoughthey ordinarily #ould not have shared their vie#s about the
good and the right and achieved a sharedmoral space if they had not also, at least
individually, been looking to#ards possible actions! +imilarly, in making a moral*ethical
&udgment as an individual, the achievement of having a goal does not yet bring about an
overt action (although, of course, in some situations, the action is so obvious or so closely
identified #ith the goal that the logical difference bet#een these t#o steps is not part of
our a#areness)! %ut the &udgment that something is a goal is already about an action of
the person (since this is part of #hat it means to identify something as a goal, i!e! to vie#
it as the outcome of actions that might be taken), so in this example of a group of
students, in coming to share a moral space and affirm a shared goal, the consideration of
possible actions is implied and so the effort to try to deliberate together is another aspect
characteri"ed by their having achieved the unity of a 0We!=Much more #ill need to be
said in the follo#ing chapters about the activity of a group in deliberating, i!e! in
conceiving and evaluating alternative actions and &udging them from the point of vie# of
the good and the right in order to see if the group can achieve a shared Moral @rame#ork!
%ut this story exemplifies the fact that, if a group reaches only the point of having a goal
and therefore of implying the need to evaluate actions in terms of their shared moral
space (#hich in practice may be a point much harder to reach than in this simple story),
they are already functioning as a single agent in their moral reflection together, and the
characteristics of the self that have been discussed in this chapter and that are most
important in Informal Decision Making by Groups are already in evidence!
It is also important to consider that in a group #orking to make a decision and
therefore communicating further in dialogue and sharing relevant personal stories, there
may be stories that are created that counteract others stories and that are offered by
members of the group in order to resist stories they &udge to be against the good and the
right! /indemann calls this type of story a counterstory, i!e! 0stories that resist the
oppressive identity, and attempt to replace it #ith one that commands respect!=
(ccording to /indemann, the immediate purpose of counterstories is to repair personal
identities and group identities, restoring human dignity that has been damaged by stories
that exploit or oppress others! When the self approaches the others by in)formatio of
moral meaning by disclosing him*herself and telling a personal story, this #ill al#ays be
in terms of deliberating about the 0I= position in relation to the 0Is= understanding of the
moral space, but also in relation to the position that the 0I= has in the group!(s a
conseAuence, either the 0Is= o#n story or a story about one party to the dialogue by
another may be a story in #hich someone is not respecting anothers dignity, kno#ingly
or unkno#ingly falling into oppression of him*herself or others! .herefore, as the
members of the group seek a common moral space, one of their tasks #ill be to examine
the stories shared and the extent to #hich they are respectful of each member of the group
and to be open to listening to and interpreting and deliberating about counterstories that
are offered to as corrective of other stories and other proposals about the good and the
right! .his fact is the concrete version of #hat is articulated abstractly by saying that the
self of each member of the group is a $eflective self, but also a $elational self, and it is
by reason of being also a Dialogical self that possible conflicts bet#een the first t#o
aspects of a self, #hich #ill not al#ays be in consonance #ith each other, can sometimes
be resolved! (s #as mentioned, ho#ever, carrying out this task #ill often be much more
difficult than in the simple dialogue of the example about the students offered above!
In conclusion, the self obviously has an important and complex role in the
dynamics of IDMG and different aspects of the self have been focused on to illuminate
different aspects of this role! It is from the 0Is= self)definition in self)reflection and self)
-! /indemann, Damaged Identities: Narrative Repair, 9!
interpretation that, to speak in a metaphorical #ay, there #ill be a going 0out= from
0myself= to reach the others by dialogue! It is in the process of production of meaning,
especially moral meaning in a shared moral space, that the 0I= finds a recognition from
and of the others! .hen by dialogue, the self that is already in relation to the other comes
to a distinctive relational point in the mutual acceptance of the shared moral space by the
0I= and the others 0I,= and their unification in a common goal that implies their
subseAuence effort to achieve shared deliberation! (nd thus the 0Is= may then become a
0We,= evaluating possible actions as one actor, acting as one agent, interdependent into
their common future, #hat $oyce #ould call a community!
(s a next step, it is no# important to describe ho# the habits of and the social
roles played by the various persons impact the process in IDMG, that is, the roles played
by the persons #ho come to form a 0We= by achieving an informal decision as a group
and the habits that are thus formed in the persons #ho make up the 0We= of an IDMG!
.hese #ill be the sub&ect of the next chapter!