Home >> Talks >>

Motor Representation in Joint Action

by Stephen A. Butterfill


What do recent findings about mechanisms for interpersonal coordination reveal about the nature of joint action? Joint action paradigmatically occurs when two or more people paint a house together, tidy the toys away together, or lift a two-handled basket. Standard accounts of joint action invoke a special kind of intention or structure of intention, knowledge or commitment often called 'shared intention'. Arguably, our having a shared intention requires that our plans interlock, which in turn requires that we represent each others' plans. So, on the standard view, joint action involves representing not only what is to be done but also another's plans for doing it. In this talk I shall explain how recent findings on mechanisms for interpersonal coordination motivate an alternative view, one that appeals to abilities to act instead of abilities to reflect on others' plans. Rather than representing each other's plans, it is sometimes sufficient for joint action that we plan each other's actions. (This may initially appear incoherent; I shall show that it isn't.) Perhaps, then, there are forms of joint action characterising which requires appeal to motor representation. Joint action is not only a matter of what we intend: sometimes it constitutively involves certain structures of motor representation.