Research Workshop: "Joint Action, Development, and the Boundaries of Human Agency"
Friday, November 15, 2019 from 12:10 – 2:00 PM in Bldg 22, Rm 210 (English Building)
Human beings do all sorts of things together. We go on walks together. We have dinner together. And so on. Philosophers who study shared agency are interested in what besides mere coordination and mutual awareness is involved in doing something together. What distinguishes two individuals who just happen to be adjacently walking down the street from two individuals who are jointly walking down the street? Standard answers to this question appeal to the fact that each of the joint actors has special intentions or beliefs regarding the other’s mental states. For instance, each believes that the other intends to walk with her. I argue that these standard accounts of joint action cannot be fully general. In particular, they cannot explain what makes joint actions involving very young children joint, because they are too cognitively demanding. I propose that children participate in joint action by adopting and acting upon the communicated intentions of more competent partners, thereby outsourcing some of the cognitive labor required to participate in joint action. I then suggest that the same is often true of adults. I conclude with some remarks about how this realization should affect our thinking about agents who are participating in joint action
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