Michael E. Bratman, "Shared Agency: A Planning Theory of Acting Together" (Oxford UP, 2014)


One striking feature of humans is that fact that we sometimes act together. We garden, paint, sing, and dance together. Moreover, we intuitively recognize the difference between our simply walking down the street alongside each other and our walking down the street together. The former involves coordinated action and intention; but the latter involves something more--what we might think of as a shared intention. Once we recognize that shared activity involved share intentions, a range of distinctively philosophical questions emerge: What are shared intentions? What is their structure? How do they emerge? How are they connected to group action? In Shared Agency: A Planning Theory of Acting Together (Oxford University Press, 2014), Michael E. Bratman addresses such questions. He argues that the planning theory of individual agency that he has developed in previous work provides sufficient resources for understanding small-scale instances of acting together. His claim, then, is that modestly social agency can be accounted for without the introduction of new philosophical elements such as "we intentions" and "joint commitment." Bratman provides a model of group action and intention that is philosophically sparing but explanatorily powerful.

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Robert Talisse

Robert Talisse is the W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.

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