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Margaret Gilbert is a philosopher best known for her 1989 book On Social Facts. She was born in the United Kingdom and obtained a B. A. degree in Classics and Philosophy from Cambridge University and a B. Phil. and D. Phil. degree in Philosophy from Oxford University. From 1983 until 2006, she taught at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, where she was Professor of Philosophy. As of Fall 2006, she holds the Abraham I. Melden Chair in Moral Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine (see Leiter Report). She been a visiting teacher and researcher at many academic institutions including Princeton University, the Institute for Advanced Study, the University of Pennsylvania, Indiana University, Wolfson College, Oxford, Dresden University of Technology, King's College London, and the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences.
Gilbert's other books include Living Together: Rationality, Sociality, and Obligation (1996), Sociality and Responsibility: New Essays in Plural Subject Theory (2000), Marcher Ensemble: Essais sur les Fondations de la Vie Collective (2003), and A Theory of Political Obligation: Membership, Commitment, and the Bonds of Society (2006).
In On Social Facts she presented accounts of a number of central social phenomena. These include social conventions, social groups in a central sense of the term, group languages, collective belief, and acting together. She argued that these were all what she refers to as 'plural subject phenomena'. She defines a 'plural subject' in terms of another technical notion, 'joint commitment'. When people are jointly committed in some way they constitute, by definition, a plural subject.
In subsequent writings Gilbert has continued the development and application of her plural subject theory. Topics she has addressed include political obligation, collective moral responsibility, agreements and promises, collective emotions, and shared values. She has presented accounts of all of these in terms of joint commitment.
She was married to noted philosopher Saul Kripke and is the sister of famed British historian Sir Martin Gilbert.
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