Now the football world championship is coming near, it’s time to speculate who will be the next winner of the FIFA World Cup. However, in view of my last blogs, we have a problem. For the championship is a competition between teams, but as we have seen it is questionable whether we can ascribe intentions to groups, so to teams, and without the presence of an intention to win in the teams, we cannot have a competition in the real sense.
One solution of the problem of group intentions is seeing it as a metaphorical way of speaking. It’s Tuomela’s approach, for instance. As he says in The Philosophy of Sociality (Oxford University Press, 2007): “[G]roups are not literally agents or persons but ... they can be regarded as persons... Within this account one can say that groups really want, intend, believe, and act, but that this amounts to the relevant group members’ respectively wanting, intending, believing, and acting in certain ways as group members”. (p. 124) “We are here somewhat metaphorically viewing groups as analogous to individual agents (persons). ... As groups have no minds and bodies, they cannot have experiential beliefs... Yet the group members can accept views for the group [etc.]”. (p. 140). I can quote Tuomela more extensively, but I think it’s clear what he means: Groups exist only in the minds of the people who make up the groups and in the minds of the bystanders.
Nevertheless, it’s a bit confusing for me. Let’s say that the Netherlands will win the World Cup. or France, or Brazil. Make your choice. But let me not be chauvinistic, so let’s suppose that Brazil will be the new world champion. Who or what is it then that will be the cup winner? Brazil? But “Brazil” stands for 8,515,767 km2 of soil and more than 200 million people and it’s clear that not a certain surface of land and 200 million of people are the winner. So “Brazil” is short for the team representing this area and these people, so for 20+ men (and in fact only eleven of them are playing at the same time in a match).
So, if we say that “Brazil” is the new world champion, then actually the Brazilian national team is the winner? So, it was the Brazilian national team that started the competition, intended to do its utmost to win and did win? Right? No ... For “the Brazilian national team” is only a metaphor and it has no mind and no body, as Tuomela explained. And when the national anthem is played and I look at the team I see ... no team but only eleven, or rather twenty+ men, and although all these men get only one cup, they get twenty+ gold medals. And it is these twenty+ men who have played and it is not a team that did, for a metaphor cannot kick a ball, but only men can do (and women, of course). So what I see are twenty+ individuals, who had each more or less the same intention to win when the competition started and who after x individual kicks against a ball got a gold medal. The team has gone and what is left are individuals. The president of the FIFA can bring the World Cup again back to his office, for whom should he give it, if there is no team? Maybe there are twenty+ men who deserve it to get a gold medal but there is no team to receive the cup. And if you don’t believe it, consider by way of exercise, the case that a player of the Brazilian is sent home during the tournament and doesn’t receive a medal: What’s then the team?The upshot is that there cannot be a winner of the FIFA World Cup, IF we see “group” simply as a metaphorical way of speaking that refers to a number of individuals with the same intention.