Joint Action: Why So Minimal?

  • Cédric Paternotte
Part of the Studies in the Philosophy of Sociality book series (SIPS, volume 11)


The repeated attempts to characterise joint action have displayed a common trend towards minimalism – whether they focus on minimal situations, minimal characterisations, cognitively minimal agents or minimal cognitive mechanisms. This trend also appears to lead to pluralism: the idea that joint action may receive multiple, equally valid characterisations. In this paper, I argue for a pluralist stance regarding joint action, although one stemming from maximalism. After describing three cases of “maximal” joint action – demonstrations, deliberations and free collective improvisation – that stretch our conceptual characterisations of joint action, I introduce and defend contextual minimalism, which focuses on joint actions occurring in contexts from which the factors that typically favour successful cooperation are absent. Although maximalist as compared to the other forms of minimalism, contextual minimalism does fit the minimalist trend and its recent emphasis on specific cognitive cooperative mechanisms.


Joint action Minimalism Pluralism Contextualism Mass action Improvisation 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cédric Paternotte
    • 1
  1. 1.SND Research Team, Department of PhilosophySorbonne UniversitéParisFrance

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