Telling as Joint Action

Informations pratiques
24 mai 2023

ENS, Pavillon Jardin, 29 rue d'Ulm, 75005 Paris


In a recent book, Richard Moran (2018) fruitfully highlights the ways in which telling someone something is a social and interpersonal act in which both the speaker and interlocutor must play a part. A conclusion which seems to naturally follow from Moran’s ideas—but one about which he is sceptical—is that telling is a form of joint action. This is the conclusion drawn by John Greco (2020), who argues that speakers and interlocutors in acts of telling share an intention—that of ’sharing knowledge’—in the same way that participants in standard forms of joint actions share intentions. In this paper, I argue that while telling is a form of joint action, Greco’s argument does not capture why we should think so, in part because his argument relies on standard analyses of shared intention in primarily cooperative joint activity. Because telling differs from the standard cooperative cases of joint action in important ways, I argue that what is instead needed to see why telling is a form of joint action lies in Ernst Tugendhat’s (1982) insight that telling involves the possibility of a response and Robert Stalnaker’s (2002) notion of the common ground. With these tools, I develop an account that broadens our understanding of joint action by including activity that is joint but not primarily cooperative.