Parallels between joint action and biological individuality

In Thomas Pradeu & Alexandre Guay (eds.), Individuals Across The Sciences. Oxford University Press (2015)

Cedric Paternotte
Université Paris-Sorbonne
There exist many definitions of human joint action, or of what makes a group similar to an individual. However, they do not agree and are not directly reducible to each other. This multiplicity is due to a lack of constraints on them. I argue that they should at least meet an efficiency constraint: any account of joint action has to justify how it reliably leads agents to cooperation. One avenue consists in exploring the analogy between definitions of joint action and of biological individuality. The main components for biological individuality have been identified and their relations are much better understood than those between the components of human joint action. I show that there are surprisingly strong analogies between the criteria and mechanisms for joint action and for biological individuality. As a result, we can import some insights of the biological literature to define what a joint action is, and when a group can and should be considered as an individual.
Keywords Individuality  Joint intentionality  Biological individual  Joint action
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