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Departmental Colloquium: Commitments and the Sense of Joint Agency

Elisabeth Pacherie
Wednesday, June 7, 2023, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

While an important body of work in philosophy and psychology has emphasized the importance of commitments in joint action, existing philosophical and empirical investigations of the experience of acting together have devoted little attention to the role that commitments might play in the emergence of a sense of joint action. I propose to explore three complementary ways in which commitments may shape the sense of joint agency and its main characteristics. First commitments may contribute to the generation of the sense of joint agency by stabilizing expectations and improving predictability. Second, commitments have a normative element that entitles the recipient of the commitment to perform regulatory actions—e.g., protesting—when the author fails to fulfill the expectations generated by their commitment. Such an entitlement may bolster an agent’s sense of control over the joint action and help counterbalance the potentially disruptive effects of asymmetries among agents on the experience of joint agency. Finally, commitments may contribute to make acting jointly emotionally rewarding, both instrumentally, by improving coordination and making it easier to achieve desired outcomes, and intrinsically, by fostering circumstances under which shared emotions emerge among co-agents.