On April 28-29, CFS will host a two-day workshop on the theme of “Shared and Temporally Extended Agency”. People exercise shared agency when they intentionally do things together. Think about two or more people having a conversation, cooking dinner together, or navigating across the sea in a sailing boat together. These joint actions all consist of many “smaller” actions that are all performed to bring about some common goal (mutual understanding, eating food, safely reaching a destination). Similarly, temporally extended actions consist of many smaller actions that are all organised around a common goal. Most joint actions are also temporally extended. If we cook dinner together, each of us will perform many smaller actions that are all directed to the goal of dinner being ready (exceptions might be very simple joint actions such as two people kissing or doing a high-five). But many temporally extended actions are such that all component actions are performed by one and the same agent. When I cook dinner, I usually perform all the component actions which the larger activity is made up of (chopping the onions, turning on the stove, putting butter in the frying pan, etc).
I myself have mainly done research on the nature of shared agency, but I have recently also taken an interest in temporally extended agency. One reason for this interest is that there seem to be some striking parallels between these phenomena. Just as one might think that one must have beliefs about the participation of other participants when we act together with them, one might think that one needs to remember and anticipate past and future stages of oneself as one is in the midst of acting over time. And just as it is difficult to explain how it can be rational to cooperate rather than defect in some social coordination problems such as the so-called Prisoners’ Dilemma, it can be difficult to explain how it can be rational to stick to a decision made earlier (to write all afternoon, say) rather than to give in to a temptation that would benefit one’s present self (to go for a long walk in the sun, say).
Given these apparent parallel problems and solutions, it seemed to me that it would be fruitful to think and talk together about these two phenomena within the framework of one workshop. So this is what we are going to do! And you welcome to attend (although the number of spaces is limited). Please email me at email@example.com if you would like to attend.
The first day of the workshop will be mainly focused on individual agency and will feature talks by Ezio Di Nucci, Michael E. Bratman, Johanna Thoma, and Thor Grünbaum. The focus shifts to shared agency on the second day, when there will be talks by Adrian Alsmith, Stephen Butterfill, Lilian O’Brien and Thomas Smith. Full programme and abstracts are available here: http://cfs.ku.dk/calendar-main/2017/cfs-workshop-shared/
I am organising the workshop as part of my postdoctoral research grant for doing research on intentional joint action from the Danish Council for Independent Research and FP7 Marie Curie Actions COFUND under the 7th EU Framework Programme (DFF 4089-00091).