Team Reasoning and Collective Intentionality

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Different versions of the idea that individualism about agency is the root of standard game theoretical puzzles have been defended by Regan 1980, Bacharach (Research in Economics 53: 117–147, 1999), Hurley (Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26: 264–265, 2003), Sugden (Philosophical Explorations 6(3):165–181, 2003), and Tuomela 2013, among others. While collectivistic game theorists like Michael Bacharach provide formal frameworks designed to avert some of the standard dilemmas, philosophers of collective action like Raimo Tuomela aim at substantive accounts of collective action that may explain how agents overcoming such social dilemmas would be motivated. This paper focuses on the conditions on collective action and intention that need to be fulfilled for Bacharach’s “team reasoning” to occur. Two influential approaches to collective action are related to the idea of team reasoning: Michael Bratman’s theory of shared intention and Raimo Tuomela’s theory of a we-mode of intending. I argue that neither captures the “agency transformation” that team reasoning requires. That might be an acceptable conclusion for Bratman but more problematic for Tuomela, who claims that Bacharach’s results support his theory. I sketch an alternative framework in which the perspectival element that is required for team reasoning - the ‘we-perspective’ - can be understood and functionally characterized in relation to the traditional distinction between mode and content of intentional states. I claim that the latter understanding of a collective perspective provides the right kind of philosophical background for team reasoning, and I discuss some implications in relation to Tuomela’s assumption that switching between individual and collective perspectives can be a matter of rational choice.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Philosophy
  • Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-218
Number of pages19
JournalReview of Philosophy and Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jun
Publication categoryResearch

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