Non-reductive Accounts of Shared Intentionality – University of Copenhagen

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Non-reductive Accounts of Shared Intentionality

Non-reductive accounts of shared intentionality deny that the capacity for shared intentionality can be accounted for by the capacity for individual intentionality plus some further conditions. The contributions to this workshop, drawing on literature from both phenomenological and current analytic philosophy of mind, explore the prospects and shortcomings of such non-reductive accounts of shared intentionality in the domain of a vast variety of intentional attitudes including: shared emotions, joint attention, shared agency, moral obligations and collective belief.


10:00 - 11:00 Varieties of Shared Activity: From the Genus to the Species. Glenda Satne (Santiago/ Wollongong)

11:00 - 12:00 Joint Attention, Perceptual Openness, and the Second-person Perspective. Felipe León (Copenhagen)

12:00 - 13:00 Lunch

13:00 - 14:00 Shared Emotions and Joint Commitments. Dan Zahavi (Copenhagen)

14:00 - 14:30 Coffee

14:30 - 15:30  Unstructured Groups and Obligations to Act Together.  Olle Blomberg (Lund)

15:30- 16:30 Essential Normativism about Collective Belief. Thomas Szanto (Jyväskylä /Copenhagen)

The workshop is free and open to all

Abstracts of the contributed papers

Varieties of Shared Activity: From the Genus to the Species. Glenda Satne (Santiago/ Wollongong)

There are many forms of shared activity, from those pursued by informal groups spontaneously, to actions performed by highly coordinated dyads of individuals in face-to-face situations, to institutional actions spread in space and time. Following some recent accounts of shared intentionality, I argue that the ‘sharedness’ in shared intentionality is best exemplified in cases of joint action informed by joint practical reasoning, in which agents deliberate together about the best means to pursue an action and then act upon such deliberation. I argue that joint activities of the relevant sort share a normative structure given by practical, means‐end structures, that are commonly known by plural agents ‘we’. By analysing a larger set of examples of shared activities, I argue that these structures are exemplified in various different species of joint activity when no explicit deliberation is involved.  Those range from intersubjective spontaneous coordinated activities that involve mutual tracking, mutual responses and mutual attunement - joint improvised dance falls under this category - to more complex joint activities as the ones scaffolded by instructions or specialized background knowledge  - as when playing music together by following a musical score or in case of jazz group improvisation  -and social norms and institutions, e.g. when playing chess, paying a check at the Bank Cashier, or driving through a crowded street. I propose a methodology that allows to capture the key elements of shared intentionality, while leaving room to include under these characterizations cases that do not exhibit some of the features of the core instances or do so only in an approximate manner.

Joint Attention, Perceptual Openness, and the Second-person Perspective. Felipe León (Copenhagen)

The topic of joint attention has attracted increasing interest from psychologists and philosophers, in spite of there being little agreement on what joint attention is, and on how we should understand it. I will start out by focusingon a tension between, on the one hand, the ‘rich’ characterization of triadic joint attention that many psychologists and philosophers endorse, and, on the other, the reductive strategies that are often adopted to explain it. I will then focus on John Campbell’s and Naomi Eilan’s non-reductive approaches to joint attention, on the arguments that speak in favour of them, and on how a non-reductive approach might go about the challenge of specifying the interpersonal component of joint attention while upholding non-reductionism. This is a challenge that Campbell does not address, and that Eilan proposes to meet by appealing to a primitive notion of “communication-as-connection”. Against the background of these views, I will propose that a developmental version of the challenge can be met by investigating how triadic joint attention involves a specific form of “self-other equivalence” (Tomasello) that is enabled by dyadic reciprocal engagements between infant and caregiver, and that plausibly enables communicative engagements. 

Shared Emotions and Joint Commitments. Dan Zahavi (Copenhagen)

In my talk (based on collaborative work with Felipe León) I will critically assess Gilbert's attempt to ground all forms of collective intentions on joint commitments

Unstructured Groups and Obligations to Act Together. Olle Blomberg (based on collaborative work with Björn Petersson) (Lund)

Common thinking, as well as philosophical reflection, suggest that organisations such as corporations and political parties can themselves have moral obligations which are distinct from the moral obligations of their members. This is supported by the idea that such organisations can arguably themselves be moral agents with intentions, beliefs and desires—perhaps even reactive attitudes. In addition, we sometimes blame unstructured groups for failing to meet obligations (say, to stop an assault, mitigate climate change, or stop overfishing). However, unstructured groups (such as the passengers of an underground carriage, the wealthy citizens of developed countries, or people involved with the fishing industry) are arguably not moral agents. In this talk I consider whether unstructured groups can nevertheless have moral obligations. I argue that group members can have obligations to coordinate with others and that group members that can deliberate together can also together have moral obligations

Essential Normativism about Collective Belief. Thomas Szanto (Jyväskylä /Copenhagen) 

There has been considerable work in social ontology and social epistemology on the possibility and nature of collective beliefs. Debates typically have centred around the distinction between collective belief and acceptance (e.g. Tuomela 2000; 2007; Gilbert 2002; 2004; Wray 2001, 2003; Tollefsen 2002, 2003; Hakli 2006, 2007). However, the respective arguments pro and contra collective beliefs proper have, I take it, reached a stalemate. In this paper, I propose to look at the issue from a different perspective and suggest a novel solution: by drawing on recent debates in the philosophy of mind, I shall argue for the claim that we can best account for collective doxastic states by endorsing so-called essential normativism about thoughts (e.g. Zangwill 2005; Wedgwood 2007), viz. the claim that thoughts imply, or constitutively depend on oughts. In particular, I shall argue that unlike individual beliefs the doxastic properties of a group are essentially (identical with) normative properties, i.e., they are constituted and individuated by those norms of rationality, which are set by the rational point of view (Rovane 1998) of the respective group.