Joint Motor Action and Cross-Creature Embodiment

Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2 (2):279-301 (2011)
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The question of what is shared in joint action has been discussed mainly with reference to the notion of collective intentionality. The problem of how to account for intentional states that are shared between two or more jointly engaged creatures is particularly relevant for actions that involve distal intentions. Yet there is another important kind of joint action, which so far has received less interest, at least by philosophers. This kind of action can be described in terms of a shared motor engagement of two or more creatures with their surroundings. In this paper, I address the question of what is shared in such motor engagements. I suggest that joint motor actions come off through sharing particular kinds of feelings. In order to flesh out what it means to share feelings, I introduce the notion of ‘cross-creature embodiment’—the idea that a certain type of embodied mental event is constitutively tied to the body state of another, perceptually present creature in broadly the same way in which it is tied to the experiencing creature’s own. I end by suggesting that this notion makes available a new, albeit tentative, interpretation of recent neuroscientific evidence

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