CFS Lecture by Hong Yu Wong: "Embodiment in Individual and Joint Action"

Lecture by Hong Yu Wong, PhD, Philosophy of Neuroscience, Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, Germany.


It has been argued that the common coding of perception and action provides a framework for action that unifies individual and joint action. This is part of a recent trend in social cognition research where accounts of different mental phenomena which unify both the individual and social varieties of mental phenomena are preferred. I want to examine whether though there are important similarities, there are also important differences which are being missed. I will look at some recent work on joint action as a case study. Knoblich, Sebanz and colleagues at the SOMBY lab (Sebanz et al. 2003, Sebanz et al. 2006, Knoblich et al. 2011) have demonstrated that joint action is subject to some of the same representational principles as individual action, namely, the common coding of perception and action (Prinz 1997, Hommel et al. 2001). This is taken to show that joint action is a form of action proper. Whilst this work has greatly advanced the subject, the question arises whether the insights from their work can be retained without the assuption that there are no substantive differences between individual and joint action qua action. I will question whether the common coding framework provides for an account of embodied agency in general. If it does, then it follows that all extant philosophical theories of agency are wrong. It it does not, then it raises questions about the extent to which a unified theory can be given for individual and joint agency.

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