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Walking Together: A Paradigmatic Social Phenomenon

Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Vol. 15, pp. 1-14, 1990

Posted: 14 Dec 2007  

Margaret P. Gilbert

University of California, Irvine


The everyday concept of a social group is approached by examining the concept of going for a walk together, an example of doing something together, or "shared action". Two analyses requiring shared personal goals are rejected, since they fail to explain how people walking together have obligations and rights to appropriate behavior, and corresponding rights of rebuke. An alternative account is proposed: those who walk together must constitute the "plural subject" of a goal (roughly, their walking alongside each other). The nature of plural subjecthood, the thesis that social groups are plural subjects, and the relation of these ideas to Rousseau's and Hobbes's, are briefly explored.

Keywords: Action, Sharing, Social Philosophy, Social Sciences, Society

Suggested Citation

Gilbert, Margaret P., Walking Together: A Paradigmatic Social Phenomenon. Available at SSRN:

Margaret P. Gilbert (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine ( email )

Humanities Office Building
Irvine, CA 92697-4555
United States


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