An Account of Boeschian Cooperative Behaviour

In Catrin Misselhorn (ed.), Collective Agency and Cooperation in Natural and Artificial Systems. Springer Verlag (1st ed. 2015)
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Philosophical accounts of joint action are often prefaced by the observation that there are two different senses in which several agents can intentionally perform an action Φ, such as go for a walk or capture the prey. The agents might intentionally Φ together, as a collective, or they might intentionally Φ in parallel, where Φ is distributively assigned to the agents, considered as a set of individuals. The accounts are supposed to characterise what is distinctive about activities in which several agents intentionally Φ collectively rather than distributively. This dualism between joint and parallel action also crops up outside philosophy. For instance, it has been imported into a debate about whether or not group hunting among chimpanzees is a form of joint cooperative hunting. I offer an account of a form of joint action that falls short of what most philosophers take to be required for genuine joint action, but which is not merely parallel activity. This shows that the dualism between the genuinely joint and the merely parallel is false. I offer my account as an explication of an influential definition of “cooperative behaviour” given by the primatologists Christophe and Hedwig Boesch.
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