SCOOP lecture series: Acting over time and acting together by Michael E. Bratman

SCOOP lecture serie: Acting over time and acting together

Michael E. Bratman University of Groningen

March 9, 2023, 15.30 – 17.00, Snijders room M0.061


Individual human actions are normally embedded in forms of mind-supported crosstemporal organization. Think about growing food in a garden. Such temporally extended human activities are typically organized by plans and planning. Given our human limits we normally settle on prior, partial plans without settling on a fully worked out plan. Downstream planning and practical thinking, including the weighing of reasons, is structured by these prior, partial plans in part by way of distinctive pressures of plan rationality. And intentions are elements in this planning system. Consider now our acting together, as when we play a quartet. Here I articulate a construction of shared intention and shared intentional agency that builds on basic elements of our plan-based cross-temporal organization of our individual activities. This helps support the conjecture that these two fundamental forms of human practical organization––diachronic and small-scale social––are grounded in our core capacity for planning agency. And this sets the stage for further research on the question whether this core role of our capacity for planning agency can be “scaled up” as part of illuminating models of social rules and of larger, ruleguided organized institutions.


Biography Michael E. Bratman

Michael E. Bratman has been at Stanford University since 1974. His main research interests are in the philosophy of action, where this includes issues about social agency and about practical rationality. His book publications are Intention, Plans, and Practical Reason (1987); Faces of Intention: Selected Essays on Intention and Agency (1999); Structures of Agency:  Essays (2007); Shared Agency: A Planning Theory of Acting Together (2014); Planning, Time, and Self-Governance: Essays in Practical Rationality (2018); and Shared and Institutional Agency (2022).  He is a co-editor of Introduction to Philosophy:  Classical and Contemporary  Readings. He has been awarded an ACLS Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and fellowships from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and the Stanford University Humanities Center. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His joint paper with David Israel and Martha Pollack, "Plans and Resource-Bounded Practical Reasoning," Computational Intelligence 4 (1988): 349-355,  was the recipient of the 2008 International Foundation of Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems influential paper award. He has been President of the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association, and was Chair of the National Board of the American Philosophical Association from 2011-2014. In 2014 he received the American Philosophical Association's Philip L. Quinn Prize "in recognition of service to philosophy and philosophers, broadly construed" and in 2019 he received the Lebowitz Prize for philosophical achievement and contribution.

Michael E. Bratman at the Philosophy’s London Lecture series

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