Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 449–470 | Cite as

How does it really feel to act together? Shared emotions and the phenomenology of we-agency

  • Mikko Salmela
  • Michiru NagatsuEmail author


Research on the phenomenology of agency for joint action has so far focused on the sense of agency and control in joint action, leaving aside questions on how it feels to act together. This paper tries to fill this gap in a way consistent with the existing theories of joint action and shared emotion. We first reconstruct Pacherie’s (Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 13, 25–46, 2014) account on the phenomenology of agency for joint action, pointing out its two problems, namely (1) the necessary trade-off between the sense of self- and we-agency; and (2) the lack of affective phenomenology of joint action in general. After elaborating on these criticisms based on our theory of shared emotion, we substantiate the second criticism by discussing different mechanisms of shared affect—feelings and emotions—that are present in typical joint actions. We show that our account improves on Pacherie’s, first by introducing our agentive model of we-agency to overcome her unnecessary dichotomy between a sense of self- and we-agency, and then by suggesting that the mechanisms of shared affect enhance not only the predictability of other agents’ actions as Pacherie highlights, but also an agentive sense of we-agency that emerges from shared emotions experienced in the course and consequence of joint action.


Phenomenology Joint action we-agency Shared emotions 



We thank Elisabeth Pacherie, John Michael, Hans Bernhard Schmid, Michael Schmitz, and two anonymous reviewers of this journal as well as the audience at the Philosophy of Science seminar, University of Helsinki, Sep 21, 2015 for their insightful and constructive comments to earlier versions of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in the Philosophy of Social Sciences (TINT), Department of Political and Economic Studies, Social and Moral PhilosophyUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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