Why we do things together: The social motivation for joint action

Philosophical Psychology 26 (4):588-603 (2013)
Abstract
Joint action is a growing field of research, spanning across the cognitive, behavioral, and brain sciences as well as receiving considerable attention amongst philosophers. I argue that there has been a significant oversight within this field concerning the possibility that many joint actions are driven, at least in part, by agents' social motivations rather than merely by their shared intentions. Social motivations are not directly related to the (joint) target goal of the action. Instead, when agents are mutually socially motivated in joint action this is because they find acting with others rewarding in its own right. Moreover the involvement of social motivation in joint action typically enables individuals to achieve the long-term benefits associated with being part of a social bond. I argue that taking social motivations into account better prepares us for explaining a broader range of joint actions, including those that are of an antagonistic, competitive, or explorative character. Finally, I show that recognizing the importance of social motivations entails that joint actions (in general) should be understood as having the two primary functions of (1) achieving the intended target outcome of an action, and (2) attaining the benefits related to being part of a social bond
Keywords Joint action  shared emotion  social motivation
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