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Planning for Collective Agency (2016)

by Stephen A. Butterfill

--- in Catrin Misselhorn (eds.), Collective Agency and Cooperation in Natural and Artificial Systems Synthese Library, vol 122, pp. 149--168
--- links: [pdf]


Which planning mechanisms enable agents to coordinate their actions, and what if anything do these tell us about the nature of collective agency? On the leading, best developed account, Michael Bratman's, collective agency 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. This chapter contrasts interconnected with parallel planning. In parallel planning, we each individually plan all of our actions and so are in a position to conceive of our own and each other's actions as parts of a single plan or exercises of a single ability. (The very idea of parallel planning may initially seem incoherent; the chapter examines this issue.) Could parallel rather than interconnected planning underpin intentional collective agency? Some considerations in favour of a positive answer are provided by appeal to recent evidence on the role of motor representation in coordinating exercises of collective agency.