A Three-Dimensional Approach to Cooperation: Implications for Social Cognition
The aim of my talk is twofold. First, I argue for cooperation as a three-dimensional phenomenon lying on the continua of (i) a behavioural axis, (ii) a cognitive axis, and (iii) an affective axis. Traditional accounts of joint action argue for cooperation as involving a shared intention. Developmental research has shown that such cooperation requires rather sophisticated social cognitive skills such as having a robust theory of mind – that is acquired not until age 4 to 5 in human ontogeny. However, also younger children are able to cooperate in various ways. This suggests that the social cognitive demands in joint action are a matter of degree, ranging from cognitively demanding cooperative activities involving shared intentions that presuppose sophisticated social cognitive skills such as having a theory of mind to basic joint actions like intentional joint attention. Moreover, any cooperative phenomenon can be located on a behavioural axis, ranging from complex coordinated behaviours (potentially determined by rules and roles) to basic coordinated behaviours such as simple turn-taking activities. Finally, cooperative activities may be influenced by (shared) affective states and agent-specificities. Hence, cooperation can be located on the continuum of an affective axis that is determined by the degree of ‘sharedness’ of the affective state in question. Second, I discuss the implications of the three-dimensional approach for social cognition. The main theories in the contemporary debate on social cognition argue for mental state attribution via folk psychological theories or simulation routines playing a key role in everyday social understanding, leading to a limited focus on those cooperative phenomena that presuppose sophisticated social cognitive competencies. Alternative approaches to social cognition, in turn, tend to overemphasize the role of social interaction in social cognition, leading to a limited focus on those cooperative phenomena that lie on a high point on the behavioural dimension. A pluralist theory of social understanding, by contrast, is able to capture the whole variety of cooperative phenomena and draws its assumptions on findings from social psychology that are neglected by traditional theories.
Date: 29 March 2018
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Meeting Room (AS3-05-23)
About the Speaker:
Anika Fiebich is a postdoctoral research fellow of the Centre for the Study of Social Action (CSSA) at the University of Milan. After finishing her Ph.D. in philosophy at the Ruhr-University Bochum, she was a postdoctoral Humboldt fellow at the Departments of Philosophy of the University of Memphis, University of Wollongong and Duisburg-Essen University. Anika Fiebich is working on various topics in the philosophy of mind and action. In particular, she is interested in social cognition and defending a pluralist approach to the explanation of social understanding. At CSSA she is working on collective intentionality and minimal approaches to cooperation.
All are welcome