Shared Agency Without Shared Intention

Philosophical Quarterly 70 (281):665-688 (2020)
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The leading reductive approaches to shared agency model that phenomenon in terms of complexes of individual intentions, understood as plan-laden commitments. Yet not all agents have such intentions, and non-planning agents such as small children and some non-human animals are clearly capable of sophisticated social interactions. But just how robust are their social capacities? Are non-planning agents capable of shared agency? Existing theories of shared agency have little to say about these important questions. I address this lacuna by developing a reductive account of the social capacities of non-planning agents, which I argue supports the conclusion that they can enjoy shared agency. The resulting discussion offers a fine-grained account of the psychological capacities that can underlie shared agency, and produces a recipe for generating novel hypotheses concerning why some agents do not engage in shared agency.

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Samuel Asarnow
Macalester College