According to one influential philosophical view of human agency, for an agent to perform an action intentionally is essentially for her to manifest a kind of self-knowledge: An agent is intentionally φ-ing if and only if she has a special kind of practical and non-observational knowledge that this is what she is doing. I here argue that this self-knowledge view faces serious problems when extended to account for intentional actions performed by several agents together as a result of a joint (...) decision. This suggests that practical and non-observational knowledge is not essential to intentional action as such, since a theory of intentional action ought to be able to make sense of such paradigm cases of joint intentional action as well as cases of singular intentional action. Existing attempts to extend the self-knowledge view to joint intentional action face an unfortunate trilemma. These attempts must (i) require that participants have non-observational knowledge of each other’s non-observational knowledge, which in turn requires that the participants are either really one and the same agent, or that they are, for all relevant purposes, clones of each other; (ii) limit their explanatory scope to intentional actions performed by groups with a single decision maker at the top of an organisational hierarchy, which arguably are not really shared or jointly performed; or (iii) require that the intention of the group is the result of a public representational act that the group members will have observational knowledge of in a way that is incompatible with a core commitment of the self-knowledge view. I argue that each of these options is unacceptable given a self-knowledge view of intentional action. (shrink)
In 'Joint Action and Development', Stephen Butterfill argues that if several agents' actions are driven by what he calls a "shared goal"—a certain pattern of goal-relations and expectations—then these actions constitute a joint action. This kind of joint action is sufficiently cognitively undemanding for children to engage in, and therefore has the potential to play a part in fostering their understanding of other minds. Part of the functional role of shared goals is to enable agents to choose means that are (...) appropriate to realising a goal with others rather than individually. By offering a counterexample, I show that the pattern of goal-relations and expectations specified by Butterfill cannot play this role. I then provide an appropriately conceptually and cognitively undemanding amendment with which the account can be saved. (shrink)
What is required for several agents to intentionally \ together? I argue that each of them must believe or assume that their \-ing is a single end that each intends to contribute to. Various analogies between intentional singular action and intentional joint action show that this doxastic single end condition captures a feature at the very heart of the phenomenon of intentional joint action. For instance, just as several simple actions are only unified into a complex intentional singular activity if (...) the agent believes or assumes that there is a single end that each action is directed to, so several agents’ actions are only unified into an intentional joint activity if each agent believes or assumes that there is a single end that each intends to contribute to. Influential accounts of intentional joint action, including Christopher Kutz’s and Michael Bratman’s, implicitly include this condition only if participants must intend to contribute to the end under the same conception. While such a requirement successfully rules out some counterexamples, it also makes the accounts unable to appropriately accommodate and explain clear cases of intentional joint action that they ought to be able to accommodate and explain. (shrink)
Most reductionist accounts of intentional joint action include a condition that it must be common knowledge between participants that they have certain intentions and beliefs that cause and coordinate the joint action. However, this condition has typically simply been taken for granted rather than argued for. The condition is not necessary for ensuring that participants are jointly responsible for the action in which each participates, nor for ensuring that each treats the others as partners rather than as social tools. It (...) is thus something of a mystery why the condition is so widely accepted. By rejecting three arguments that could potentially support it, I argue that reductionists should get rid of the condition. I show that two of the arguments fail. While the third argument is intuitively compelling, it builds on key premises that are unavailable to the reductionist. (shrink)
According to a widely accepted constraint on the content of intentions, here called the exclusivity constraint, one cannot intend to perform another agent’s action, even if one might be able to intend that she performs it. For example, while one can intend that one’s guest leaves before midnight, one cannot intend to perform her act of leaving. However, Deborah Tollefsen’s (2005) account of joint activity requires participants to have intentions-in-action (in John Searle’s (1983) sense) that violate this constraint. I argue (...) that the exclusivity constraint should not be accepted as an unconditional constraint on the contents of intentions-in-action: one may intend to perform a basic action that belongs both to oneself and to another agent. Based on the phenomenology of tool use, I first argue that intentions-in-action of one’s basic actions may be technologically extended, meaning that their contents are not restricted to concern the agent’s bodily movements. In analogy with this, I then argue that the phenomenology of some skillful joint activities supports the idea that one’s basic intentions-in-action may be socially extended, in violation of the widely accepted exclusivity constraint. Tollefsen’s account is specifically constructed to account for the joint activities of infants and toddlers who lack the capacity to think of others as planning agents and grasp their plan-like intentions (a capacity required by Michael Bratman’s (1992, 1993, 2009a, b) influential account of joint activity). At the end of the paper, I raise some doubts regarding the extent to which infants and toddlers have socially extended intentions-in-action. (shrink)
One of the principles on how to act under moral uncertainty, My Favourite Theory, says roughly that a morally conscientious agent chooses an option that is permitted by the most credible moral theory. In defence of this principle, we argue that it prescribes consistent choices over time, without relying on intertheoretic comparisons of value, while its main rivals are either plagued by moral analogues of money pumps or in need of a method for making non-arbitrary intertheoretic comparisons. We rebut the (...) arguments that have been levelled against My Favourite Theory and offer some arguments against intertheoretic comparisons of value. (shrink)
Philosophical accounts of joint action are often prefaced by the observation that there are two different senses in which several agents can intentionally perform an action Φ, such as go for a walk or capture the prey. The agents might intentionally Φ together, as a collective, or they might intentionally Φ in parallel, where Φ is distributively assigned to the agents, considered as a set of individuals. The accounts are supposed to characterise what is distinctive about activities in which several (...) agents intentionally Φ collectively rather than distributively. This dualism between joint and parallel action also crops up outside philosophy. For instance, it has been imported into a debate about whether or not group hunting among chimpanzees is a form of joint cooperative hunting. I offer an account of a form of joint action that falls short of what most philosophers take to be required for genuine joint action, but which is not merely parallel activity. This shows that the dualism between the genuinely joint and the merely parallel is false. I offer my account as an explication of an influential definition of “cooperative behaviour” given by the primatologists Christophe and Hedwig Boesch. (shrink)
Another look is taken at the model assumptions involved in William Dembski’s (2002a, No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot be Purchased without Intelligence. Roman & Littlefield, Lanham, MA) use of the NFL theorems from optimization theory to disprove the Darwinian theory of evolution by natural selection, and his argument is shown to be irrelevant to evolutionary biology.
The view that an agent’s cognitive processes sometimes include proper parts found outside the skin and skull of the agent is gaining increasing acceptance in philosophy of mind. One main empirical touchstone for this so-called active externalism is Edwin Hutchins’ theory of distributed cognition (DCog). However, the connection between DCog and active externalism is far from clear. While active externalism is one component of DCog, the theory also incorporates other related claims, which active externalists may not want to take on (...) board. DCog implies a shift away from an organism-centred cognitive science to a focus on larger socio-technical-cum-cognitive systems. In arguing for this shift, proponents of DCog seem to accept that socio-cultural systems have some form of agency apart from the agencies of the individuals inside them. I will tentatively suggest a way in which such a notion of agency can be cashed out. (shrink)
Critics argue that non-cognitivism cannot adequately account for the existence and nature of some thick moral concepts. They use the existence of thick concepts as a lever in an argument against non-cognitivism, here called the Thick Concept Argument (TCA). While TCA is frequently invoked, it is unfortunately rarely articulated. In this paper, TCA is first reconstructed on the basis of John McDowell’s formulation of the argument (from 1981), and then evaluated in the light of several possible non-cognitivist responses. In general, (...) TCA assumes too much about what a non-cognitivist is (or must be) committed to. There are several non-cognitivist theories, and only some fit the view attacked by TCA. Furthermore, TCA rests on a contestable intuition about a thought experiment, here called the External Standpoint Experiment (ESE). It is concluded that TCA is remarkably weak, given how frequently the argument is invoked. (shrink)
This essay discusses the ways in which `Mode 1' and `Mode 2' interact, by reviewing the development of research funding in Sweden during the twentieth century. It argues that `Mode 2' has been the traditional mode of practice. `Mode 1' is a post-war phenomenon, but it is presently the dominant layer of Swedish publicly-funded science and science policy. This essay argues that we are seeing not an increase in uncertainty, but rather a decreasing tolerance of uncertainty.
In this article I argue against Schroeder's account of the weight of normative reasons. It is shown that in certain cases an agent may have reasons she cannot know about without them ceasing to be reasons, and also reasons she cannot know about at all. Both possibilities are troubling for Schroeder's view.
In the wake of globalisation different social science disciplines have found themselves entering into similar terrains of inquiry. However, each discipline tends to draw on different and often contradictory understandings of the political, and of related notions such as power. The lack of a shared notion of politics may prevent social scientists from gaining important insights from other disciplines. In this paper I therefore seek to demonstrate that seemingly contradictory notions of politics are better seen as different forms of political (...) interaction. I define politics as activities through which people and groups articulate, negotiate, implement and enforce competing claims. By distinguishing different types of claims made within different institutional circumstances, I outline three basic forms of political interaction: governance, stalemate and social dilemma, and give examples of how each of these forms of political interaction has emerged in response to the global integration of market in different circumstances and areas of the world. (shrink)
Cognitive processes, cognitive psychology tells us, unfold in our heads. In contrast, several approaches in cognitive engineering argue for a shift of unit of analysis from what is going on in the heads of operators to the workings of whole socio-technical systems. This shift is sometimes presented as part of the development of a new understanding of what cognition is and where the boundaries of cognitive systems are. Cognition, it is claimed, is not just situated or embedded, but extended and (...) distributed in the world. My main question in this article is what the practical significance is of this framing of an expanded unit of analysis in a cognitive vocabulary. I focus on possible consequences for how cognitive engineering practitioners think about function allocation in system design, and on what the relative benefits and costs are of having a common framework and vocabulary for talking about both human and technical system components. I argue for what I call an *expansive but deflated conception of cognition*, primarily on pragmatic grounds. In addition, I claim that the important lesson of the “boundaries of cognition” debate in cognitive science is the negative claim that there is not anything special about the biological boundary of the skin and skull per se, rather than some positive claim about where the boundaries of extended or distributed cognitive systems really are. I also examine the role of the concept of cognition in the theoretical frameworks of distributed cognition, joint cognitive systems (also known as cognitive system engineering), and cognitive work analysis. (shrink)
In this paper, I will discuss some aspects of the Swedish policy to reduce pesticide use by 50%, a decision that has attracted great interest and may sometimes have been over-advertised. It has also been followed by similar programmes in other countries such as Denmark, Holland and Canada, What are the cultural and political backgrounds? What is general and what is specifically swedish? Why did the demand for this decision first occur in Sweden, where the problems concerning pesticide use are (...) much less pronounced than in many other countries and agricultural areas? Does the Swedish policy imply a new approach with completely different conditions for pesticide use, or should it preferably be described as an adaptation to what modern pesticide and agricultural technology can achieve? (shrink)
This article consists of a tentative exploration regarding the Buddhist portrayal and critique of Sāṃkhya epistemology and the theory of reflection (pratibimbavāda) as expressed in the Sāṃkhyatattvāvatāraḥ chapter of Bhāviveka’s 6th century Madhyamakahṛdayakārikā, and its auto-commentary the Tarkajvālā; and the Jain portrayal and critique of Sāṃkhya epistemology and the theory of reflection as expressed in Haribhadrasūri’s 8th century Śātravārtāsamuccaya (ŚVS) and Yogabindu. The article includes a translation of the Yogabindu, verses 444–457.
One of my main points in this study is that the knowledge of orthodox medical theory is an incomplete guide for practical action when relating to our patients' specifically human problems. By following a holistic perspective on patients' health and on our medical enterprise we will be more efficient as doctors. This standpoint is illuminated by means of two case reports. Instead of focusing on symptoms as such and letting them refer to orthodox medical theory, I explicitly relate to the (...) patients as if they are conveying a personal meaning by means of experienced symptoms. The experience of illness could be a successful strategy on the existential level although destructive on the technical biological level. A holistic theory of health can give doctors a good conceptual base when relating to people whose presented illnesses are to be regarded explicitly as their way of making themselves understood. The doctor's understanding of the patient's illness, of the theory of health, and of how health is regained, is dependent on the doctor's having the courage to reduce the distance to the patient, the courage to participate and be changed. (shrink)
During the last hundred years medical language has been influenced by scientific and technological progress. As a result uncertainty in medical communication is increasing. This may have serious consequences not only for health care delivery but also for medical science. Disease classification, assessment of the validity of epidemiological investigations and comparison of the results of various investigations are examples of what will become less secure. The purpose of the article is to emphasise a main source of uncertainty — the problem (...) of interpreting definitions. Two issues of interpretation are explored. One concerns the logical status of a statement and the other the function of a statement. It is concluded that the security of medical language can be increased through the elucidation of the logical status and functions of statements making up medical concepts. (shrink)
This article examines the reputation of John Henry Newman in France between the end of the First World War and the end of the Second. One effect of the controversy over Modernism was that Newman, despite his great popularity in France in the late nineteenth century as a convert to Catholicism, was not widely appreciated between the wars as an original thinker, either in the French Catholic Church or in the philosophical community. Henri Bremond's popular pre-war psychological biography of Newman (...) had been rather misleading. Jean Guitton's 1933 thesis was a rare attempt to show the importance of Newman's ideas about time and development, which offered a robust theology of history as a challenge to the increasing dominance of Hegelian views. Debates about Christian philosophy largely ignored Newman, as did the emerging disciplines of phenomenology and existentialism, at least in their French forms. No one really championed Newman consistently in France until Maurice Nédoncelle embarked on his long-term project of translating, editing and explaining the full range of his work for a new generation . People then began to discover, to their surprise, that these movements in philosophy, as well as the ‘nouvelle théologie’ movement in the Church, were all to some extent indebted to Newman, through some of his early French admirers such as Laberthonnière and Ollé-Laprune; and the relevance of his thought to the post-war world at last began to be acknowledged. (shrink)
Leading philosophical accounts of joint activity, such as Michael Bratman’s account of ‘shared intentional activity’, take joint activity to be the outcome of two or more agents having a ‘shared intention’, where this is a certain pattern of mutually known prior intentions (plans) that are directed toward a common goal. With Bratman’s account as a foil, I address two lacunas that are relatively unexplored in the philosophical literature. The first lacuna concerns how to make sense of the apparently joint cooperative (...) activities of agents that lack the capacities for planning and “mindreading” that one must have in order to be a party to a shared intention (consider, for example, the social play of young children or the cooperative hunting of non-human primates or social carnivores). The second lacuna concerns how participants (including adult human agents) are able to coordinate their actions “online”—that is, during action execution as a joint activity unfolds—without recourse to plans that specify in advance what they should do (consider the coordination involved when two friends meet and do a “high five”). Chapters 2 and 3 focus on the first lacuna, while chapters 4 and 5 focus on the second. In chapter 2, I focus on why participants must have mutual or common knowledge of each other’s intentions and beliefs in order to have a shared intention: Why must these attitudes be “out in the open”? I argue that, if participants lack the concept of belief, then one of the two main motivations for the common knowledge requirement—to filter out certain cases that intuitively aren’t cases of genuine joint activity—actually dissipates. Furthermore, a kind of “openness” that only requires of participants that they have the concept of goal but not that of belief can satisfy the other main motivation, to make sense of the idea that joint activities are non-accidentally coordinated. In chapter 3, I offer an account of a kind of joint activity in which agents such as young children and some non-human primates could participate, given what we know about their socio-cognitive capacities. In chapter 4, I argue that ‘shared intention’-accounts are unable to say much about spontaneous or skilful joint action because of the following widely accepted constraint on what one can intend: while an agent might intend—in the sense of commit to a plan—that “we” do something together, an agent cannot intend to perform “our” joint action. I reject this constraint and argue that some joint actions (such as a joint manoeuvre performed by two figure skaters) are joint in virtue of each participant having what I call ‘socially extended intention-in-action’ that overlap. In chapter 5, I review empirical work on subpersonal enabling mechanisms for the coordination of joint action. The review provides clues to what it is that enables participants to successfully coordinate their actions in the absence of plan-like intentions or beyond what such intentions specify. While what I address are lacunas rather than problems, an upshot of this thesis is that leading philosophical accounts of joint activity may have less explanatory scope than one might otherwise be led to believe. The accounts of joint activity and joint action that are presented in this thesis are arguably applicable to many of the joint activities and joint actions of adult human beings. The account also helps us avoid the false dichotomy between a very robust form of joint activity and a mere concatenation of purely individualistic actions—a dichotomy that accounts such as Bratman’s arguably invite us to adopt. (shrink)