Collective Emotions and Joint Action

Journal of Social Ontology 2 (1):33-57 (2016)

Authors
Michiru Nagatsu
University of Helsinki
Abstract
In contemporary philosophy of collective intentionality, emotions, feelings, moods, and sentiments do not figure prominently in debates on the explanation and justification of joint action. Received philosophical theories analyze joint action in terms of common knowledge of cognitively complex, interconnected structures of intentions and action plans of the participants. These theories admit that collective emotions sometimes give rise to joint action or more typically, unplanned and uncoordinated collective behavior that falls short of full-fledged jointly intentional action. In contrast, minimalist theorists pay some attention to affective elements in joint action without much concern about their collective intentionality. They refer to an association between low-level synchrony in perceptual, motor, and behavioral processes, and increased interpersonal liking, feelings of solidarity, and cooperativeness. In this paper, we outline an account of collective emotions that can bridge this theoretical divide, linking the intentional structure of joint actions and the underlying cognitive and affective mechanisms. Collective emotions can function as both motivating and justifying reasons for jointly intentional actions, in some cases even without prior joint intentions of the participants. Moreover, they facilitate coordination in joint action.
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