Beyond team-directed reasoning: Participatory intentions contribute to a theory of collective agency

Hein Duijf


Philosophical accounts of collective intentionality typically rely on members to form a personal intention of sorts, viewed as a mental state. This tendency is opposed by recent economic literature on team-directed reasoning (as studied by Bacharach, Gold, and Sugden), which focuses on the reasoning process leading up to the formation of the members’ intentions. Our formal analysis bridges these paradigms and criticizes the team- directed reasoning account on two counts: first, team-directed reasoning is supposed to transcend traditional game and decision theory by adopting a certain collectivistic reasoning method. However, we show that team-directed reasoning yields the same action recommendations as a certain I-mode we-intention type. Accordingly, an important part of we-mode reasoning can be reduced to I-mode reasoning with certain preferences. Second, contrary to the claims of team-directed-reasoning theorists, we refute that team-directed reasoning surpasses pro-group intentions in selecting cooperatively rational solutions. That is, in some scenarios team-directed reasoning fails to guarantee successful cooperation whereas pro-group intentions succeed in doing so. We therefore propose to revise team-directed reasoning and introduce a third we-intention type, called participatory intentions. We prove that participatory intentions guarantee that a best group action is performed whenever either team-directed reasoning or pro-group intentions do.

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