What Is Minimally Cooperative Behavior?

In Anika Fiebich (ed.), Minimal Cooperation and Shared Agency. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. pp. 9-40 (2020)
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Cooperation admits of degrees. When factory workers stage a slowdown, they do not cease to cooperate with management in the production of goods altogether, but they are not fully cooperative either. Full cooperation implies that participants in a joint action are committed to rendering appropriate contributions as needed toward their joint end so as to bring it about, consistently with the type of action and the generally agreed upon constraints within which they work, as efficiently as they can, where their contributions are sensitive to information (where available) about how others are contributing in the sense that they adjust as needed their contributions in light of information about how others are contributing to ensure effective pursuit of their joint end, where this includes rendering aid to other participants if needed, insofar as they are able. Full cooperation entails those cooperating are engaged in a joint intentional action. Some prominent studies of joint intentional action focus exclusively on cases of full cooperation (notably that of Michael Bratman (2014)). But not all joint intentional action is fully cooperative. One example is the work slowdown. Another example is provided by competitive games like chess and football, or sports like boxing and wrestling, where participants are clearly not intending to contribute to the pursuit of all of the goals of the others engaged in the activity, even when those goals are internal to the type of activity in question, but instead intend actively to frustrate some of them. In this paper, I provide a taxonomy of forms of non-cooperative behavior within the context of behavior that is still to some degree cooperative, and I argue that the minimal conditions of joint intentional action define minimal cooperative behavior, that is, that minimally joint intentional action is per se minimally cooperative behavior. I define in precise terms what that comes to, and how it is possible in cases in which it seems that one or more participants are in one or more ways acting so as to frustrate the contributions of other participants to their joint action.

Author's Profile

Kirk Ludwig
Indiana University, Bloomington


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