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Joint Action: What Is Shared? Introduction to the special issue (2011)

by Stephen A. Butterfill and Natalie Sebanz

---Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2(2), pp. 137-146
--- links: external [doi: 10.1007/s13164-011-0062-3]


Joint action raises a tangle of philosophical, developmental and cognitive questions. Many of these questions are naturally understood to be about sharing, about the sharing of intentions, emotions, task representations, and action plans. Of course it is not easy to explain what it means to share in this context. Few researchers hold that agents can literally share intentions, emotions or other states in the sense in which two siblings share a parent; and while it is uncontroversial that agents can share intentions, emotions and other states in the sense in which siblings share genes, on almost any account this kind of sharing is not sufficient for joint action. The overarching question in this special issue is which forms of sharing (if any) are needed to explain the development of joint action, to characterise the mechanisms which make effective joint action possible and to explain what joint action is. In this Introduction we will explain how the papers in this special issue contribute to answering this question and, in some cases, raise new puzzles.