Agora Speaker Series 2020 - Dr Glenda Satne

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  • Online
    Webinar - details sent after registration

Undergraduate talk

Title: Exploring collective intentional actions: methodological remarks.
In the literature as well as pre-theoretically, the following are taken as examples of collective intentional action: Stadium waves and demonstrations, involving big groups of strangers spontaneously coordinating their actions; actions carried out by large organized groups of individuals, e.g. enterprises or institutions, where members have only indirect if any knowledge of each other; actions of small groups that know each other very well and plan together, e.g. friends preparing dinner together; coordinated actions that are spontaneous and short lived in space and time, including dyads, e.g. walking together.

Philosophers mostly agree that in the case of solitary intentional actions – actions intentionally carried out by individuals alone- different from each other as they may be, there are some features that make at least a whole bulk of them intentional. Is there a parallel case to be made for collective intentional activities? Do collective intentional activities have something in common? If so, how can we account for intentional action when this is not up to the individual alone but a matter of relating with others? What are the central features of collective intentional activities?

This presentation discusses three alternative methodological solutions to this question that characterize the most popular positions in the debate: essentialist accounts (e.g. Bratman, Rödl), pluralist accounts (Zahavi, Salice), and hierarchical accounts, (e.g. Ludwig, Butterfill, Tomasello, Eilan). The paper offers a different methodological route to exploring this question: the paradigmatic account. It then explores how it fares vis-à-vis other views. One of the main advantages of the proposed view is that it remains neutral about what is the best way to characterize the intentional activities of collectives while at the same time offering a way to analyze their common features, opening the door for their conceptual and empirical enquiry.

Research talk

Title: Practical Knowledge and Shared Agency. Pluralizing Anscombe’s view.

For Anscombe a solitary activity is intentional if the agent has self-knowledge of what she is doing. Analogously one might think that to partake in shared intentional activities is for the agents involved to have plural or collective self-knowledge of what they are doing together. I call this ‘the Plural Practical Knowledge Thesis’ (PPK). While some authors have advanced related theses about the nature of the knowledge involved in shared practical activities (see Laurence 2011, Schmid 2016, Rödl 2015, 2018) this alternative remains relatively underexplored in the current literature. The paper offers an account of plural practical knowledge based on the idea that shared activities of the relevant sort share a normative structure given by practical, means‐end structures. It then proposes a paradigmatic methodology that generalizes this account to understand what different cases of collective intentional action have in common. Finally, the paper exposes the reasons why it should be preferred to other related strategies.