Is plural self-awareness prior to joint action?

Why do people choose to act jointly or to shift towards a plural subject? How can several people together become a collective? Why would individuals take a we-perspective? These are some of the main issues in collective intentionality and joint action. In Tomasello we find the idea that cooperation is the basis, or motivation, for behaving jointly. The capacity of cooperation frames our understanding of others’ intentions, the capacity for joint attention, and joint action. His idea of cooperation as the
motivation for social interaction seems a helpful basis for the main questions in collective intentionality that were raised above. Likewise, Godman (2013) argued for a social human being, with social interaction not the explanandum but the explanans of why we act jointly. Instead of appealing to a shared goal, intention, or representation, she suggests to appeal to a shared social motivation that drives joint action. Social experiences are rewarding in their own right. Therefore, no further reason
seems necessary to understand why we act jointly. Schmid (2014) makes an even more radical suggestion. He argues for a new interpretation of the “sense of us” that many claim to be presupposed in collective intentionality. He argues for the introduction of plural pre-reflective self-awareness that
plays the same role in the constitution of a common mind as does singular pre-reflective self-awareness in the individual mind. The “sense of us” is a characteristic of experience; pre-reflexive and
non-thematic. It has often been claimed that self-awareness plays a constitutive role for the sort of unity in virtue of which the mind is somebody’s mind. Self-awareness a) constitutes ownership (a
formal unity of mind), b) creates perspective (what is “self” and what is not), and c) is the driving force behind normatively unified minds that are committed to consistency. Schmid argues that self-awareness may occur in the plural too. Joint intention presupposes a background awareness of plural
selfhood, understood as a) common ownership, b) shared perspective, and c) joint commitment. And just as the individual self is not prior to individual self-awareness, plural self-awareness is what the plural self is. Based on this analysis of plural self-awareness I will reevaluate the motivations for joint action that Tomasello and Godman offer. In light of the idea of plural self-awareness, the motivational argument seems redundant. I will investigate whether it really is.

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