CFS Lecture by Mattia Gallotti: "Social interaction, shared intentionality and the we-mode"

Lecture by Mattia Gallotti, Jean Nicod Institute, Paris

The theory of collective intentionality is now a central player in the study of the roots of human sociality. Philosophers generally agree that, if an action is to count as joint, then it is not sufficient that interacting agents each individually intend to contribute. However, despite widespread agreement that joint action involves something like shared intentions, the question remains as to how to characterize the relevant sharing of minds. According to the ‘we-mode hypothesis’, whenever people intend to do something together, they have the content of their individual actions specified by representing aspects of the interactive scene - including themselves and the others - in an irreducibly collective attitude. But to say that you and I succeed in a joint action by framing things in the first-person plural (as a ‘we’) is not very informative unless one specifies how the we-mode sustains the meeting of minds that is essential to joint action.

My aim in this paper is to address this question in light of the current ‘interactive turn’ in social cognition. I shall start by reviewing the literature on the we-mode, drawing upon theoretical and empirical resources from behavioural and brain research as well as from philosophical analyses of shared intentionality. The root idea of the we-mode is that agents take into consideration the viewpoints of their interacting partners when they intend and enact things in the first-person plural perspective. This gives each agent a broader understanding of the options available for action thus expanding the potential for social knowledge and interaction. In the second part of the paper I examine the scope and significance of this claim against the background of recent suggestions about the constitutive role of interaction for social cognition