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Planning for Collective Agency

by Stephen A. Butterfill


What does exercising collective agency require when our acting collectively is intentional? On the leading, best developed account, Michael Bratman's, intentional collective agency requires shared intention and shared intention is explained in terms of interconnected planning. For our plans to be interconnected is for them to concern not just facts about our environment and goals but also facts about each others' plans. In this talk I shall argue that interconnected planning is neither sufficient nor necessary for intentional collective agency. I shall also defend the possibility that parallel planning might underpin intentional collective agency. What matters is not whether our plans are interconnected in the sense that they include facts about each others' plans: in some or all cases, what matters for intentional collective agency is rather that we each individually, in parallel plan all of our actions and so conceive of our own and each other's actions as parts of a single plan. This may have consequences for understanding the roles of motor cognition in collective agency, as well as for modelling and simulating collective agency.