Shared Intentionality and Automatic Imitation: The case of La Ola

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 50 (5):465-492 (2020)
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Abstract

This article argues that such large-scale cases of crowd behavior as the Mexican Wave ( La Ola) constitute forms of shared intentionality which cannot be explained solely with the use of the standard intentionalistic ontology. It claims that such unique forms of collective intentionality require a hybrid explanatory lens in which an account of shared goals, intentions, and other propositional attitudes is combined with an account of the motor psychology of collective agents. The paper describes in detail the intentionalistic ontology of La Ola and discusses the conditions of cooperation it meets. The discussion allows the author to defend the view that large-scale collective intentionality can be based on automaticity to a significant degree: to properly understand such phenomena like La Ola, the idea of probabilistically interpreted decisions and propensities to act should give way to the automatic aspects of behavior. This paves the way for future studies in the philosophy of action to fully recognize the role of automatic performances at the level of collective actions just as they do for individual actions.

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Piotr Makowski
University of Warsaw

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