Joint Improvisation, Minimalism and Pluralism about Joint action


  • Pierre Saint-Germier Université Catholique de Louvain
  • Cédric Paternotte Sorbonne Université
  • Clément Canonne IRCAM, Analyses des Pratiques Musicales


joint action, improvisation, minimalism, plans, shared intentions


This paper introduces freely improvised joint actions, a class of joint actions characterized by (i) highly unspecific goals and (ii) the unavailability of shared plans. For example, walking together just for the sake of walking together with no specific destination or path in mind provides an ordinary example of FIJAs, along with examples in the arts, e.g., collective free improvisation in music, improv theater, or contact improvisation in dance. We argue that classic philosophical accounts of joint action such as Bratman’s rule them out because the latter require a capacity for planning that is idle in the case of FIJAs. This argument is structurally similar to arguments for minimalist accounts of joint action (e.g., based on joint actions performed by children before they develop a full-fledged theory of mind), and this invites a parallel minimalist account, which we provide in terms of a specific kind of shared intentions that do not require plan states. We further argue that the resulting minimalist account is different in kind from the sort of minimalism suggested by developmental considerations and conclude in favor of a pluralistic minimalism, according to which there are several ways for an account of joint action to be minimal.


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How to Cite

Saint-Germier, Pierre, Cédric Paternotte, and Clément Canonne. 2022. “Joint Improvisation, Minimalism and Pluralism about Joint Action”. Journal of Social Ontology 7 (1). Vienna, Austria:97-118.