How to Share an Intention

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57 (1):29-50 (1997)
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Existing accounts of shared intention (by Bratman, Searle, and others) do not claim that a single token of intention can be jointly framed and executed by multiple agents; rather, they claim that multiple agents can frame distinct, individual intentions in such a way as to qualify as jointly intending something. In this respect, the existing accounts do not show that intentions can be shared in any literal sense. This article argues that, in failing to show how intentions can be literally shared, these accounts fail to resolve what seems problematic in the notion of shared intention. It then offers an account in which the problem of shared intention is resolved, because intention can indeed be literally shared. This account is derived from Margaret Gilbert’s notion of a “pool of wills,” to which it applies Searle’s definition of intention.

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J. David Velleman
New York University


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