Philosophy and distributed artificial intelligence: The case of joint intention

In N. Jennings & G. O'Hare (eds.), Foundations of Distributed Artificial Intelligence. Wiley (1996)
In current philosophical research the term 'philosophy of social action' can be used - and has been used - in a broad sense to encompass the following central research topics: 1) action occurring in a social context; this includes multi-agent action; 2) joint attitudes (or "we-attitudes" such as joint intention, mutual belief) and other social attitudes needed for the explication and explanation of social action; 3) social macro-notions, such as actions performed by social groups and properties of social groups such as their goals and beliefs; 4) social norms and social institutions (see Tuomela, 1984, 1995). The theory of social action understood analogously in a broad sense would then involve not only philosophical but all other relevant theorizing about social action. Thus, in this sense, such fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as Distributed AI (DAI) and the theory of Multi-Agent Systems (MAS) fall within the scope of the theory of social action. DAI studies the social side of computer systems and includes various well-known areas ranging from Human Computer Interaction, Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, Organizational Processing, Distributed Problem Solving to Simulation of Social Systems and Organizations. Even if I am a philosopher with low artificial intelligence I will below try to say something about what the scope of DAI should be taken to be on conceptual and philosophical grounds. (In the later sections of the paper the central notion of joint intention will be the main topic - in order to illustrate how philosophers and DAI-researchers approach this issue.) Let us now consider the relationship between philosophy - especially philosophy of social action - and DAI. Both are concerned with social matters and in this sense seem to have a connection to social science proper. What kinds of questions should these areas of study be concerned with? In principle, ordinary social science should study all aspects of social life (in various societies and cultures), try to describe it and create general theories to explain it.
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