Naturalizing joint action: A process-based approach

Philosophical Psychology 25 (3):385 - 407 (2011)
Abstract
Numerous philosophical theories of joint agency and its intentional structure have been developed in the past few decades. These theories have offered accounts of joint agency that appeal to higher-level states (such as goals, commitments, and intentions) that are ?shared? in some way. These accounts have enhanced our understanding of joint agency, yet there are a number of lower-level cognitive phenomena involved in joint action that philosophers rarely acknowledge. In particular, empirical research in cognitive science has revealed that when individuals engage in a joint activity such as conversation or joint problem solving, they become aligned at multiple levels (e.g., behaviors, or cognitive states). We argue that this phenomenon of alignment is crucial to understanding joint actions and should be integrated with philosophical approaches. In this paper, we sketch a possible integration, and draw out its implications for understanding of joint agency and collective intentionality. The result is a process-based, dynamic account of joint action that integrates both low-level and high-level states, and seeks to capture the separate processes of how a joint action is initiated and sustained
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