On Commitments and Other Uncertainty Reduction Tools in Joint Action


  • John Michael Central European University
  • Elisabeth Pacherie Institut Jean Nicod, ENS, EHESS, CNRS


commitment, cooperation, coordination, joint action, social cognition, social interaction


In this paper, we evaluate the proposal that a central function of commitments within joint action is to reduce various kinds of uncertainty, and that this accounts for the prevalence of commitments in joint action. While this idea is prima facie attractive, we argue that it faces two serious problems. First, commitments can only reduce uncertainty if they are credible, and accounting for the credibility of commitments proves not to be straightforward. Second, there are many other ways in which uncertainty is commonly reduced within joint actions, which raises the possibility that commitments may be superfluous. Nevertheless, we argue that the existence of these alternative uncertainty reduction processes does not make commitments superfluous after all but, rather, helps to explain how commitments may contribute in various ways to uncertainty reduction.

Author Biography

John Michael, Central European University

<span class="contributor" data-toggle="tooltip" data-placement="bottom" data-original-title="Department of Cognitive Science, , Budapest, Hungary; "> </span>


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How to Cite

Michael, John, and Elisabeth Pacherie. 2014. “On Commitments and Other Uncertainty Reduction Tools in Joint Action”. Journal of Social Ontology 1 (1). Vienna, Austria:89-120. https://journalofsocialontology.org/index.php/jso/article/view/6897.